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VOL. L i 


DAVID NUTT, 270 & 271. STRAND. 










It is a matter of especial satisfaction to me that my 
work, ** The History of the Jews, from the Earliest 
Times to the Present Day," should be rendered 
accessible to the English reading public in a com- 
pact form and by means of an adequate translation ; 
for in countries where English is spoken, books are 
not only bought, bound, and placed in libraries, but 
are also read, taken to heart, and acted upon. It is 
therefore to be expected that the English-speaking 
people, which has never disregarded but has at all 
times recognised and appreciated the peculiar cha- 
racter of the Jewish race, will feel an increased 
sympathy for it, on reading the alternations of its 
sublime and tragical history. 

English readers, to whom the forefathers of the 
Jews of to-day — the patriarchs, heroes, and men ot 
God — are familiar characters, will the better under- 
stand the miracle which is exhibited in the history 
of the Jews during three thousand years. The 
continuance of the Jewish race until the present 


day is a marvel not to be overlooked even by those 
who deny the existence of miracles, and who only 
see in the most astounding events, both natural 
and preternatural, the logical results of cause and 
effect. Here we observe a phenomenon, which has 
developed and asserted itself in spite of all laws of 
nature, and we behold a culture which, notwith- 
standing unspeakable hostility against its exponents, 
has nevertheless profoundly modified the organism 
of nations. 

It is the heartfelt aspiration of the author that 
this historical work, in its English garb, may attain 
its object by putting an end to the hostile bearing 
against the Jewish race, so that it may no longer be 
begrudged the peculiar sphere whereto it has been 
predestined through the events and sorrows of 
thousands of years, and that it may be permitted 
to fulfil its appointed mission without molesta- 

This translation, in five volumes, is not a mere 
excerpt of my " Geschichte der Juden " (like my 
** Volksthiimliche Geschichte der Juden"), but a 
condensed reproduction of the entire eleven 
volumes. But the footnotes have been omitted, 
so as to render the present work less voluminous 
for the general reader. Historical students are 


usually acquainted with the German language, and 
can read the notes in the original. 

In this English edition the ** History of the 
Present Day" is brought down to 1870, whilst the 
original only goes as far as the memorable events 
of 1848. The last volume will contain a survey of 
the entire history of the Jewish nation, together 
with a comprehensive index of names and events. • 

In conclusion, I cannot refrain from expressing 
my gratitude to one, whose life-task it is to further 
with rare generosity all humane and intellectual 
interests, and who has caused this translation to be 
made and published. At the risk of wounding his 
modesty, I must mention, as the Maecenas of this 
work, Mr. Frederick D. Mocatta, whose name is a 
household word in every Jewish circle. 


Breslau, January^ 1891. 

To the foregoing words of the author I merely 
wish to add, that while the first volume, as far as 
the period of the Hasmonseans, has been translated 
by me, the other volumes have for the greater 


part "been done into English by various hands," 
and have afterwards been revised and edited 
by me. 

My cordial thanks are due to Mr. Israel 
Abrahams, whose scholarly co-operation has 
enabled me to cope with the difficulties presented 
by Hebrew and Jewish names and technicalities. 


London, January^ 1891. • 





The Original Inhabitants of Canaan— Gigantic Anakim and Rephaim 
— The Phoenicians — Israel's Claim to Canaan — The Patriarchs — 
Hereditary Law — Emigration to Egypt — Tribal Union — Bright 
and Dark Sides of the Egyptians — ^Moses, Aaron and Miriam 
— The Prophetic Sage — Call of Moses as Deliverer — Oppo- 
sition — Exodus from Egypt — Passage of the Red Sea — Wan- 
derings in the Desert — Revelation on Mount Sinai — The 
Decalogue — Relapse — Concessions — Crisis — Circuitous Wander- 
ings — Victories over Populations of Canaan on Trans-Jordanic 
Side — Commencements of Hebrew Poetry — Death of Moses. 

/^a^e I 



Joshua's Succession — Passage of the Jordan — Conquest of Jericho — 
The Gibeonites — Coalition of Canaanite Cities against the Israel- 
ites — Settlement in the Land — Isolation of the Tribes^ — Allot- 
ments — The Tribe of Levi— The Ark of the Covenant at' Shiloh 
— Condition of Canaan at the time of the Conquest — Climate and 
Fertility — Intellectual Activity— Poetry of Nature— Remnants of 
Canaanite Populations— Death of Joshua . . . pa^e 33 



The Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Philistines, Idumseans — Their Customs 
and Mythology — the Moabites and Ammonites — Intercourse of 
the Israehtes with their Neighbours and Adoption of their Man- 
ners — Disintegration of the Tribes — Constequent Weakness — 
Temporary Deliverers /^^^ 55 



Animosity of the Idumseans— Othniel, a Deliverer— Eglon, King of 
Moab — The Canaanite King, Jabin— -Sisera, his General — The 


Prophetess and Poetess Deborah — Barak — Victory near Tabor 
— Early Hebrew Poetry — Sufferings through Nomads — The 
Hero Gideon ( J erubbaal)— Victory in the Plain of Jezreel— Com- 
mencement of Prosperity— Abimelech — Feud with the Shechem- 
ites— Jair the Gileadite — Hostilities of the Amalekites and the 
Philistines — Jephthah — Samson— Zebulunite Judges. page 62 



Importance of the Judges in Command — Public Feeling — Sanctuary 
in Shiloh — Eli and his Sons — Defeat by the Philistines — Capture 
of the Ark — Destruction of Shiloh and the Sanctuary— Flight of 
the Aaronites and Levites — Death of Eli — The Ark in Philistia 
and in Kirjath Jearim — Prophecy re-awakened — Samuel in 
Ramah — The Order of Prophets or Singers — Popular revulsion 
— The tribe of Judah — Repeated attacks of the Philistines— Meet- 
ing at Mizpah — Samuel's activity — Nob as a place of Worship — 
Increase in power of the Philistines and Ammonites — Tribes 
desire to have a King^ — Samuel's course of action . page 70 

1 100 (?)— (about 1067 B.C.). 



Establishment of a Kingdom— Saul — His Position and Character — 
His secret Election at Mizpah — Humiliating Condition of the 
Nation under the Philistines — Declaration of War — Assemblage 
in Gilgal — Battle of Michmash — Defeat of the Philistines — 
Sev.erity of Saul — Victory over the Ammonites — Saul's Election 
as King confinned — His Court and Attendants — His Officers and 
Standing Army — Victory over the Amalekites — Disputes 
between Saul and Samuel— Saul's attack on the neighbouring 
People — War with the Gibeonites— Place of Worship in Gibeon— 
War against the Philistines in the Valley of Tamarinths — Goliath 
and David— Meeting of Saul and David — Saul's Jealousy turns 
into Madness— The Persecution of David— Saul's last Battle 
against the Philistines — Defeat and Death . . page 84 

1067— 1055. 



Burning of Ziklag— Defeat of the Amalekites— Judah elects David 
as King— Abner and Ishbosheth— War between the of 
Saul and*David — Murder of Abner— Death of Ishbosheth— David 
recognised as sole King — Capture of Zion — Fortification of Jeru- 
salem—War with the Philistines— Victory of David— The Heroes 
—Alliance with Hiram— Removal of the Ark of the Sanctuary to 


Jerusalem — The High-Priests — Choral Services of the Temple — 
Internal Government of Israel — The Gibeonites and Rizpah — 
Mephibosheth . . ' i)age io8 

1055— 1035. ■ ■ , 



War with Moabites — Insult offered by king of the Ammonites — War 
with Ammonites— Their Defeat — Battle of Helam — Attack of 
Hadadeser— Defeat of Aramaeans — Acquisition of Damascus — 
War with the Idumaeans — Conquest of the town of Kabbah — 
Defeat of Idumaeans— Conquered Races obHged to pay tribute 
— Bathsheba — Death of Uriah the Hittite — Parable of Nathan 
— Birth of Solomon (1033) — Misfortunes of David — Absalom- 
Wise Woman of Tekoah — Reconciliation of David and Absalom 
— Numbering of the Troops — Pestilence breaks out in Israel — 
Absalom's Rebellion — Murder of Amasa — Sheba's Insurrection 
— David and Nathan — Adonijah . . . . page 128 

1035— loi 5. 



The new King's Rule — Solomon's Choice — Poetic Allegory — Murder 
of Adonijah and Joab — The Court — Alliance with Egypt — Tyre 
— Solomon's Buildings — The Temple Plan — The Workmen — 
The Materials — Description of the Temple — ^^The Ceremony of 
Consecration — Reorganisation of the Priesthood — The King's 
Palace — The Throne — Increase of National Wealth — The Fleet 
— The Seeds of Disunion — Jeroboam — Idolatry permitted — Es- 
trangement from Egypt — Growth of surrounding Kingdoms — 
Solomon's fame — His Death page 160 

ABOUT 1015—977. 



Accession of Rehoboam — Jeroboam's return — The King at Shechem 
—The Secession of the Ten Tribes — Election of Jeroboam — New 
Alliances — Rezon and Shishak — Fortification of Shechem — 
Jeroboam's Idolatry — Ahijah's rebuke — Religion in Judah — 
Abijam— Asa — Nadab — Baasha — Wars between Asa and Baasha 
— Defeat of Zerah — Benhadad — Elah — Zimri — Omri — Civil war 
— Samaria built — Omri's policy — Alliances with Ethbaal and Tyre 
— Ahab : his character — Jezebel — The Priests of Baal — Elijah — 
Naboth's vineyard — Elijah at Carmel — War with Benhadad — 
Death of Ahab and Jehoshaphat — Ahaziah's Accession — Jehoram 
— Elijah and Elisha — Jehu — Death of Jezebel . . page 183 





Athaliah's rule — Early years of Joash — Proclamation of Joash by 
Jehoiada — Athaliah slain — Religious Revival — Elisha — Repairing 
of the Temple — Death of Jehoiada and of his Son — Invasion of 
Israel by Hazael — Jehoahaz — Murder of Joash, King of Judah — 
Jehoash, King of Israel — Defeat of the Aramaeans— Amaziah — 
Conquest of Edom — Death of Elisha — A.maziah defeated by 
Jehoash — Jeroboam II. — Death, of Amaziah . page 219 




Condition of Judah — The Earthquake and Famine^-Uzziah's Rule— ^ 
Overthrow of Neighbouring Powers — Fortification of Jerusalem 
— Navigation of the Red Sea — Jeroboam's Prosperity — The Sons 
of the Prophets^ — Amos — Prophetic Eloquence^Joel's Prophecies 
— Hosea foretells ultimate Peace — Denunciation of Uzziah — 
Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem — Last Years of Uzziah — Contest 
between the King and the High Priest — Uzziah usurps the 
Priestly Functions — Uzziah's Illness . . . page 235 




King Menahem — The Babylonians and the Assyrians — Pekah — 
Jotham's reign — Isaiah of Jerusalem — His style and influence— 
His first public address — Later speeches — Their immediate and 
permanent effect — His disciples — Their characteristics — Zecha- 
riah— His Prophecies page 2^\ 




The Reign of Ahaz — His Character — Alliance between Pekah and 
Rezin — Tiglath-Pileser and Assyria — Ahaz seeks Assyrian Aid — 
Isaiah's Opposition — Defeat of Pekah and Rezin — Introduction 
of Assyrian Worship — Human Sacrifices — The Second Micah — 
Samaria after Pekah's Death — Assyria and Egypt — Hoshea — 
Samaria taken by Shalmaneser — The Exile — Hezekiah — His 
Early Measures — His weakness of Character — Isaiah's Efforts 
to Restrain Hezekiah from War with Assyria — Arrangements for 
the Defence — Change of Policy — Isaiah Predicts the Deliverance 


— Micah — Rabshakeh's Embassy — Hezekiah's Defiance — His 
Illness and Recovery— The Destruction of Sennacherib's Army 
— Merodach-baladan— Hezekiah's Rule — The Psalmists — Death 
of Hezekiah page 265 




Manasseh — Fanatical Hatred of Hezekiah's Policy — Assyrian Wor- 
ship IntroducedT-The Anavim — Persecution of the Prophets — 
Assarhaddon — The Colonization of Samaria — Amon — Josiah — 
. Huldah and Zephaniah — Affairs in Assyria — Regeneration of 
Judah under Josiah — Repairing of the Temple — Jeremiah — The 
Book of Deuteronomy — Josiah's Passover— Battle at Megiddo. 

page 289 
711— 621. 



Effects of Josiah's Foreign Policy — Jehoahaz — Jehoiakim— Egyptian 
Idolatry introduced — The Prophets — Uriah the Son of She- 
maiah — Jeremiah's renewed Labours — Fall of Assyria — Nebu- 
chadnezzar — Baruch reads Jeremiah's Scroll — Submission of 
Jehoiakim— His Rebellion and Death — Jehoiachin— Zedekiah — 
Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar — The Siege raised owing 
to the Intervention of Egypt — Defeat of the Egyptians — Renewal 
of the Siege — ^Capture of Jerusalem — Zedekiah in Babylon — 
Destruction of the Capital — Jeremiah's Lamentations . page 307 

608 — 596. 


The National Decay — The Fugitives — Enmity of the Idumasans — 
Johanan, Son of Kareah — The Lamentation — Nebuchadnezzar 
appoints Gedaliah as Governor — Jeremiah Encourages the 
People — Mizpah — Ishmael Murders Gedaliah — The Flight to 
Egvpt — Jeremiah's Counsel Disregarded— Depopulation of Judah 
— The Idumaeans make Settlements in the Country — Obadiah — 
Condition ot the Judaans in Egypt — Defeat of Hophra: — Egypt 
under Amasis — Jeremiah's Last days . . . page 327 



Nebuchadnezzar's treatment of the Exiles — The Exiles obtain grants 
• of land — Evil-Merodach favours JehTJachin — Number of the 


Judaean Exiles — Ezekiel's activity in the first period of the Exile 
— Moral change of the People — Baruch collects Jeremiah's Pro- 
phecies and compiles the Histories — The Mourners of Zion — 
Proselytes — The Pious and Worldly Parties — The Poetry of the 
Time — Psalms and Book of Job — Nabonad's Persecutions — The 
Martyrs and the Prophets of the Exile — The Babylonian Isaiah 
— Cyrus captures Babylon — The Return under Zerubbabel. 

p(^S^ 339 



The Journey to Jerusalem — The Samaritans — Commencement of the 
Rebuilding of the Temple— Interruption of the Work— Darius 
— Haggai and Zechariah — Completion of the Temple — Contest 
between Zerubbabel and Joshua — Intermarriage with Heathens 
— The Judasans in Babylon — Ezra visits Jerusalem — Dissolution 
of the Heathen Marriages — The Book of Ruth — Attacks by 
Sanballat — Nehemiah — His arrival in Jerusalem — Fortification 
of the Capital — Sanballat's Intrigues against Nehemiah — En- 
slavement of the Poor— Nehemiah's Protest — Repopulation of 
the Capital — The Genealogies — The Reading of the Law — The 
Feast of Tabernacles — The Great Assembly — The Consecration 
— Departure of Nehemiah — Action of Eliashib — Withholding 
the Tithes — Malachi, the Last of the Prophets — Nehemiah's 
Second Visit to Jerusalem— His measures . . p(^.i(^ 3^S 



Enmity of the Samaritans against the Judasans — The Temple on 
Mount Gerizim — The High Pricbt Manasseh — The mixed 
language of the Samaritans — Their veneration for the Law of 
Moses — Judaism loses its national meaning — The Jubilee and 
Sabbatical Year — Almsgiving — The Council of Seventy — The 
Assyrian Characters — The Schools and the Sopherim — Observ- 
ance of the Ceremonies — The Prayers — The Persian Angels and 
Demons — The Future Life — The Judaeans under Artaxerxes II. 
and III. — Their Banishment to the Caspian Sea — Jochanan and 
Joshua contend for the Office of High Priest — Bagoas — The 
Writings of the Period— The Greeks and Macedonians — Alex- 
ander the Great and the Judaeans — Judaea accounted a Province 
of Coelesyria — Struggles between Alexander's Successors — Cap- 
ture of Jerusalem by Ptolemy — Judaea added to the Lagidean- 
Egyptian Kingdom — The Judaean Colonics in Egypt and Syria 
and the Greek Colonies in Palestine . . page 401 




Condition of the Judasans under the Ptolemies — Simon effects Im- 
provements — Sis Praises are sung by Sirach — His Doctrines 
— The -Chassidim and Nazirites — Simon's Children — Onias II. 
and the Revolt against Egypt — Joseph, son of Tobias — His 
Embassy to Alexandria — He is appointed Tax-collector — War 
between Antiochus the Great' and Egypt — Defeat of Antiochus — 
Inroad of Greek Manners into Judaea — Hyrcanus — The Song of 
Songs — Simeon II. — Scopas spoils Jerusalem— The Contest 
between Antiochus and Rome — Continued Hellenization of the 
Judseans — The Chassidim and the Hellenists — Jose ben Joezer 
and Jose ben Jocharian — Onias III. and Simon — Heliodorus — 
Sirach's Composition against the Errors of his Time. . page 434 





Antiochus Epiphanes — His Character — His Wars with Rome — He 
appoints Jason to the High Priesthood — Introduction of the 
Greek Games — Jason sends Envoys to Tyre to take part in the 
Olympian Games — Affairs ' in Jerusalem — Antiochus invades 
Egypt — Report of his Death in Jerusalem — Antiochus attacks 
the City and defiles the Temple — His designs against Judaism 
— His Second Invasion of Egypt — The Persecution of the Ju- 
dasans — The Martyrs — Mattathias and his five Sons— Apelles 
appears in Modin — The Chassidim — Death of Mattathias and 
Appointment of Judas Maccabseus as Leader— His Virtues — 
Battles against ApoUonius and Heron— Antiochus determines 
to Extermmate the Judasan People — Composition and Object of 
the Book of Daniel — Victory of Judas over Lysias. P^g^ 457 




Return of Judas to Jerusalem — Reconsecration of the Temple — The 
Feast of Lights. — Fortification of the Capital — The Idumasans 
and Ammonites defeated by Judas — Illtreatment of the Galilean 
Judseans — Measures against Timotheus — Death of Antiochus — 
Embassy of the Hellenists to Antiochus V. — Battle at Bethzur — 
Retreat of Judas—Affairs in Jerusalem — Alcimus — Intervention 
of the Romans — Nicanor's Interview with Judas — Battle of 
Adarsa — Death of Judas — Effects of his Career — Condition of 
the People after the Death of Judas — The Chassidim, the Hel- 
lenists, and the Hasmonaeans — Jonathan — His Guerilla Warfare 


against Bacchides— Death of the High Priest Alcimus — Truce 
between Jonathan and Bacchides — Jonathan as High Priest — 
His far-sighted Pohcy — His Captivity and his Death . page 487 

160 — 143. 



The Judasan Colonies in Egypt and Cyrene — Internal Affairs of the 
Alexandrian Community — King Philometor favours the Judaeans 
— Onias and Dositheus — The Temple of Onias— Translation of 
the Pentateuch into Greek — Struggle between the Judaeans and 
Samaritans in Alexandria — Affairs in- Judsea — Independenc^e. of 
Judsea — Simon's League with the Romans — Overthrow of the 
Acra and of the Hellenists — Simon's Coinage — Quarrel between 
Simon and the Syrian King — Invasion by Cendebaeus — Assassi- 
nation of Simon ' page 521 

143—135- • 





The Original Inhabitants of Canaan — Gigantic Anakim and Rephaim 
— The Phoenicians — Israel's Claim to Canaan — The Patriarchs — 
Hereditary Law — Emigration to Egypt — Tribal Union — Bright 
and Dark Sides of the Egyptians — Moses, Aaron and Miriam 
— The Prophetic Sage — Call of Moses as Deliverer — Oppo- 
sition — Exodus from Egypt — Passage of the Red Sea — Wan- 
derings in the Desert — Revelation on Mount Sinai — The 
Decalogue —Relapse — Concessions — Crisis — Circuitous Wander- 
ings — Victories over Populations of Canaan, on Trans-Jordanie 
Side— Commencements of Hebrew Poetry — Death of Moses. 

It was on a spring day that some pastoral tribes 
passed across the Jordan into a strip of land which 
can only be regarded as an extended coast line of 
the Mediterranean. This was the land of Canaan, 
subsequently called Palestine, The crossing of the 
Jordan and the entry into this territory were des- 
tined to become of the utmost importance to man- 
kind. The land of which the shepherd tribes 
possessed themselves became the arena of great 
events, so enduring and important in their results, 
that the country in which they took place became 
known as the Holy Land. Distant nations had 
no conception that the entry of the Hebrew or 
Israelite tribes into the land of Canaan would 
have such momentous consequences. Even the 
inhabitants of Palestine were far from recognising 
in this invasion an occurrence fraught with vital 
significance to themselves. 

VOL. I. B 



At the time when the Hebrews occupied this 
territory it was inhabited by tribes and peoples dis- 
similar in descent and pursuits. The primary place 
was held by the aborigines, the Anakivi and Re- 
pkaim, a powerful race of giants. Tradition repre- 
sents them as the descendants of that unruly and 
overbearing race which, in primaeval times, at- 
tempted to storm the heavens. For this rebellious 
attempt they had been doomed to Ignominious 

Their reputed descendants, the powerful natives 
of the country — who by some of the ancient nations 
were called Emim, " terrible men " — were unable 
to maintain themselves ; notwithstanding their im- 
posing figures, they were destroyed by races of 
inferior stature. The rest were obliged to migrate 
to the East-Jordan ic lands, to the south, and also 
to the south-west of the West - Jordanic region. 
This remnant of the Anakim filled the Israelite 
spies with such abject terror that they rendered the 
entire nation afraid of ever obtaining possession of 
the country. This gave rise to the proverb, " Who 
can stand before the children of Anak?" *'We 
were," said the spies, *' in our own eyes as grass- 
hoppers, and so we appeared unto them." These 
giants were eventually overcome by the Israelite 

Another group of inhabitants which had settled 
in the land between the Mediterranean and the 
Jordan was that of the Canaanites, whom the 
Greeks called Phoenicians. These Phoenicians ap- 
pear to have pursued the same employment In their 
new country as they had followed on the banks of 
the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. Their chief pur- 
suits were navigation and commerce. The position 
which they had selected was eminently favourable 
to their daring expeditions. The great ocean, 
forming a strait at the Pillars of Hercules, and 
separating Europe from Africa, as the Mediterra- 


nean Sea, has here its extreme limit. At the foot 
of the snow-topped Lebanon and its spurs, com- 
modious inlets formed natural harbours that re- 
quired but little improvement at the hand of man. 
On this seaboard the Canaanites built the town of 
Sidon, situated on a prominent crag which over- 
hangs the sea. They afterwards built, on a small 
rocky island, the port of Tyre (Tor, which sub- 
sequently became celebrated) ; they also built 
Aradus to the north of Sidon, and Akko (Acre) 
to the south of Tyre. The neighbouring forests 
of the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon supplied 
them with lofty cedars and strong cypresses for 
ships. The Canaanites, who became the first mer- 
cantile nation in the world, owed much of their 
success to the advantage of finding on their coast 
various species of the murex {Tolaat shani)^ from 
the fluid of which was obtained a most brilliant and 
widely celebrated purple dye. The beautiful white 
sand of the river Belus, near Acre, supplied fine 
glass, an article which was likewise in much request 
in the Old World. The wealth of the country lay 
in the sands of the sea shore. The Canaanites, on 
accountof their extensive trade, required and intro- 
duced at an early period a convenient form of 
writing, and their alphabet, the Phoenician, became 
the model for the alphabets of ancient and modern 
nations. In a word, the narrow belt of land between 
the Mediterranean and Mount Lebanon, with its 
spurs, became one of the most important points on 
the face of the globe. Through the peaceful pur- 
suits of commerce they were brought into contact 
with remote nations, who were gradually aroused 
from a state of inactivity. The Canaanites became 
subdivided into the small nationalities of Amorites, 
Hittites, Hivites, and Perizzites. The Jebusites, 
who inhabited this district were of minor impor- 
tance ; they dwelt on the tract of land which after- 
wards became the site for the city of Jerusalem. Of 

VOL. I. B 2 


Still less account were the Girgashites, who had ; 
no fixed residence. All these names would have I 
remained unknown had not the Israelites entered j 
the land. ! 

But this people had not taken a footing in the ; 
country with the mere object of finding pasture- \ 
land for their flocks ; their pretensions were far j 
greater. Chief of all, they claimed as their patri- \ 
mony the land where the graves of their fore- . \ 
fathers were situated. The first patriarch, Abraham, | 
who had emigrated from Aram, on the borders of ! 
the Euphrates, had, after many wanderings through : 
the country, acquired in Hebron, as an hereditary \ 
burial-place, the Cave of Machpelah, or the * 'Double ; 
Cave," together with the adjoining field and trees. ; 
There his wife Sarah had been interred, then he i 
himself, and after him his son, the patriarch, Isaac. ^ 

The third patriarch, Jacob, after many vicissitudes ' 
and wanderings, had purchased a plot of land near | 
Shechem, and had taken that important city " with j 
his sword and with his bow." The city was in \ 
the very heart of the territory of the Hivites, and \ 
its capture had taken place in consequence of a \ 
breach of peace, through the abduction and dis- ] 
honour of Jacob's daughter. The land was hence- i 
forth regarded as the property of the patriarch, \ 
and he only reluctantly quitted it at the outbreak ? 
of a famine, in order to proceed to Egypt, where corn | 
was plentiful. On his deathbed, Jacob impressed | 
upon his sons that they should deposit his remains 
in the family tomb of the "Double Cave." Not 
alone did Canaan contain the graves of the three 
patriarchs, but also the altars which they had 
erected iind named in various places, in honour of 
the Deity whom they worshipped. The Israelites 
were therefore firmly convinced that they had a 
right to the exclusive possession of the land. 
These claims derived further strength from the right 
of hereditary transmission. 


The patriarchs had left to their descendants as a 
sacred bequest the tradition that the Deity, whom 
they had been the first to recognise, had repeatedly 
and indubitably, though only in visions, promised 
them this land as their possession, not merely 
for the sake of showing them favour, but as the 
means of attaining to a higher degree of culture. 
This culture would pre-eminently consist in 
Abraham's doctrine of a purer belief in the One 
God, whose nature differed essentially from that of 
the gods whom the various nations represented in 
the shape of idols and by means of other senseless 
conceptions. The higher recognition of the Deity 
was designed to lead Abraham's posterity to the 
practice of justice towards all men, in contra- 
distinction to the injustice universally prevailing in 
those days. It was affirmed that this higher culture 
was ordained by the Almighty" as **the way of 
God," and that as such it should be transmitted by 
the patriarchs to their families as a bequest and 
as a subject of hereditary instruction. They also 
received the promise that through their posterity, as 
the faithful guardians of this teaching, all nations of 
the earth should be blessed, and should participate 
in this intellectual advancement of Israel ; and that 
with this same object the land of Canaan had been 
allotted to Israel, as especially adapted for the pur- 
poses of the hereditary law. Hence it was that the 
Israelites, while in a foreign country, felt an irre- 
pressible yearning for their ancestral land. Their 
forefathers had impressed them with the hope that, 
though some of their generations would sojourn in a 
land which was not their own, a time would surely 
come when Israel should return to that land which 
was the resting-place of their patriarchs, and where 
the patriarchal altars had been erected and con- 
secrated. This promise became identified with all 
their positive expectations, and with their conviction 
that the acquisition of Canaan was secured to them as 


a reward for performing the duties of worshipping 
the God of their fathers, and for observing the ways 
of justice and righteousness. The nature of this 
worship and **the way of justice" was -not clearly 
defined, nor did they require such a definition. 
The lives of the patriarchs, as commemorated by 
posterity, served as a sufficient illustration of the 
family law. Abraham was especially held up as a 
model of human excellence. Differing from other 
nations who worshipped their primaeval ancestors, 
his descendants did not revere him as a performer 
of marvellous deeds, nor as one exalted to the 
eminent degree of a god or a demi-god. Not as a 
warrior and a conqueror did he live in the memory 
of his descendants, but as a self-denying, God- 
fearing man, who joined true simplicity and faith 
to nobleness in thought and in action. According 
to their conception, Abraham the Hebrew, al- 
though born of idolatrous parents in Aram, on the 
other side of the Euphrates, and although brought 
up amidst idolatrous associations, had obeyed the 
voice which revealed to him a higher God, and 
had separated himself from those around him. 
When disputes arose, he did not obstinately insist 
upon his claims, but renounced his rights for the 
sake of living at peace with his fellow-men. So 
hospitable was he, that he would go forth to invite 
the passing wayfarers, and he delighted in enter- 
taining them. He interceded for the sinners of 
Sodom and the neighbouring cities, when their 
cruel and inhuman acts had brought on them the 
punishment of Heaven ; and he prayed that they 
might be spared for the sake of any few righteous 
men amongst them. 

These and other remembrances of his peace- 
loving and generous disposition, of his self-abne- 
gation, and of his submission to God, were cherished 
by his descendants, together with the conviction 
that such a line of conduct was agreeable to the 


God of their fathers; that for the sake of these 
virtues God had protected Abraham, as well as 
his son and his grandson, because the two latter 
had followed the example of their predecessor. 
This belief that God especially protects the virtuous, 
the just, and the good, was fully confirmed in the 
life of the patriarch Jacob, to whom the further 
name of Israel was given. His life had been 
short and toilsome, but the God of his fathers had 
delivered him from all his sorrows. Such remem- 
brances of ancestral piety were retained by the sons 
of Israel, and such family traditions served to sup- 
plement and illustrate their hereditary law. 

The growth of Israel as a distinct race com- 
menced amidst extraordinary circumstances. The 
beginning gf this people bore but very slight re- 
semblance to the origin of other nations. Israel 
as a people arose amidst peculiar surroundings 
in the land of Goshen, a territory situated in the 
extreme north of Egypt, near the borders of Pales- 
tine. The Israelites were not at once moulded into 
a nation, but consisted of twelve loosely connected 
shepherd tribes. 

These tribes led a simple life in the land of 
Goshen. The elders {Zekeniin) of the families, who 
acted as their chiefs, were consulted on all im- 
portant occasions. They had no supreme chieftain, 
nor did they owe allegiance to the Egyptian 
kings ; and thus they habitually enjoyed the 
freedom of a republic, in which each tribal section 
was enabled to preserve its independence without 
falling into subjection or serfdom. Although they 
did not become intermixed with the ancient Egyp- 
tians, who in fact had an aversion to shepherds — 
perhaps on account of the oppression they had 
in former ages endured from such shepherds (the 
Hyksos) — yet opportunities for contact and mutual 
communication could not be wanting. Some fami- 
lies of Israel had abandoned their pastoral pur- 


suits, and devoted themselves to agriculture or 
industrial occupations, and were therefore brought 
into connection with the inhabitants of towns. It 
seems that the members of the tribe of Ephraim 
stood in closer social contact with the original 
inhabitants. This intercourse had a favourable 
influence upon the Israelites. 

The Egyptians had already gone through a 
history of a thousand years, and attained to a 
high degree of culture. Their kings, or Pharaohs, 
had already built populous cities, and erected 
colossal edifices, temples, pyramids and mauso- 
leums. Their priests had acquired a certain degree 
of perfection in such arts and technical accom- 
plishments as were suited to the requirements of 
the country, as for example, architecture and 
hydraulic constructions, the kindred science of geo- 
metry, the art of medicine, and the mystery of em- 
balming for the perpetual preservation of the remains 
of the departed; also the artistic working of objects 
in gold, silver, and precious stones, in order 
to satisfy the luxurious demands of the kings. 
They also knew the art of sculpture and the 
use of pigments. They studied chronology, together 
with astronomy, which was suggested by the perio- 
dical overflow of the Nile. The all-important art 
of writing had been invented and perfected by the 
Egyptian priests. They first used stones and 
metals to commemorate the renown of their 
monarchs ; and they afterwards employed the fibre 
of the papyrus shrub, which was originally marked 
with clumsy figures and subsequently with inge- 
niously drawn symbols. Of these several attain- 
ments the Israelites seem to have acquired some 
notion. The members of the destitute tribe of 
Levi in particular, being unencumbered by pastoral 
service or by landed possessions, appear to have 
learnt from the Egyptian priests the art of writing. 
Owing to their superior knowledge, they were 


treated by the other tribes as the sacerdotal class, 
and hence they held, even in Eg-ypt, the privileged 
distinction of their priestly position. 

The residence of the Israelites in Egypt was of 
great advantage to them. It raised them, or at least 
a portion of them, from a rude state of nature to a 
higher grade of culture. But what they gained on 
the one hand, they lost on the other ; and in spite of 
their arts and accomplishments, they would in time 
have fallen into a more abject condition. Amongst 
no people which had advanced beyond the first stage 
of Fetish worship, had idolatry assumed such a 
hideous development, or so mischievously tainted 
the habits, as was the case with the Egyp- 
tians. By combining and intermingling the gods 
of the various districts, they had established a 
complete system of polytheism. As a matter of 
course they worshipped goddesses as well as gods. 
What made the mythology of the Egyptians espe- 
cially repulsive, was the fact that they placed the 
deified objects of their adoration, from whom 
they expected help, far below the level of human 

They endowed their gods with the shape of 
animals, and worshipped the inferior creatures as 
divine powers. Ammon, their chief god, was repre- 
sented with ram's horns, the goddess Pecht (Pacht) 
with a cat's head, and Hathor (Athyr), the goddess 
of licentiousness, with a cow's head. Osiris, who 
was worshipped throughout Egypt, was represented 
in a most loathsome and revolting image, and the 
universally honoured Isis was often pictured with a 
cow's head. Animals being scarce in the Nile 
region, great value was attached to their preser- 
vation, and they received divine homage. Such 
honours were paid to the black bull Apis {Abir) 
in Memphis, to the white bull Mnevis in Heliopolis, 
to the lascivious goats, to dogs, and especially to 
cats; also to birds, snakes, and even mice. The 



killing of a sacred bull or cat was more severely | 

punished than the murder of a human being. ] 

This abominable idolatry was daily witnessed ; 

by the Israelites. The consequences of such per- \ 
versions were sufficiently deplorable. Men who 

invested their gods with the shape of animals, sank j 

down to the level of beasts, and were treated as such i 

by the kings and by persons of the higher castes — i 

the priests and soldiers. Humanity was contemned ; \ 

no regard was paid to the freedom of the subjects, \ 

and still less to that of strangers. The Pharaohs ; 

claimed to be descended from the gods, and were \ 

worshipped as such even during their lifetime. The ; 

entire land with its population was owned by them. .1 

It was a mere act of grace on their part that they : 
granted a portion of the territory to cultivators of 

the soil. ; 

Egypt, in fact, was not peopled by an independent i 

nation, but by bondsmen. Hundreds of thousands ■ 
were forced to take part in compulsory labour for 

the erection of the colossal temples and pyramids. | 
The Egyptian priests were worthy of such kings and 

gods. Cruelly as the Pharaohs harassed their ; 
subjects with hard labour, the priests continued 

to declare that the kings were demi-gods. Under \ 
the weight of this oppression the people became 
devoid of all human dignity, and submitted to the 

vilest bondage without ever attempting to relieve \ 

themselves from the galling yoke. The repulsive ' 
idolatry then prevailing in Egypt had yet further 

pernicious consequences. The people lost the idea \ 

of chastity, after they had placed the brute creation i 

on an equality with their deities. Unspeakable i 

offences in the use of animals had become of daily , 
occurrence, and entailed neither punishment nor 

disgrace. The gods being depicted in unchaste posi- j 

tions, there appeared to be no need for human beings \ 

to be better than the gods. No example is more \ 

contagious and seductive than folly and sin. The j 


Israelites, especially those who were brought into 
closer contact with the Egyptians, gradually adopted 
idolatrous perversions, and abandoned themselves 
to unbridled license. This state of things was 
aggravated by a new system of persecution. 
During a long period, the Israelites residing in the 
Land of Goshen had been left unmolested, they 
having been looked upon as roving shepherds who 
would not permanently settle in Egypt. But when 
decades and even a century had passed by, and 
they still remained in the land and continued to 
increase in numbers, the council of the king 
begrudged them the state of freedom which was 
denied to the Egyptians themselves. The court 
now feared that these shepherd tribes, which had 
become so numerous in Goshen, might assume 
a warlike attitude towards Egypt. To avoid this 
danger, the Israelites were declared to be bonds- 
men, and were compelled to perform forced labour. 
To effect a rapid decrease in their numbers, the king 
commanded that the male infants of the Israelites 
should be drowned in the Nile or in some of the 
canals, and that only the female infants should be 
spared. The Israelites, formerly free in the land 
of Goshen, were now kept '* in a house of bond- 
age," ''in an iron furnace"; here it was to be 
proved whether they would conform to their here- 
ditary law, or follow strange gods. 

The greater part of the tribes could not stand 
this trial. They had a dim knowledge that the God 
of their fathers was a being very different from the 
Egyptian idols ; but even this knowledge seemed to 
decrease from day to day. Love of imitation, sore 
oppression, and daily misery made them obtuse, and 
obscured the faint light of their hereditary law. The 
enslaved labourers did not know what to think of 
an unseen God who only lived in their memories. 
Like their masters, the Egyptians, they now lifted 
their eyes to the visible gods who showed them- 


selves so merciful and propitious to Israel's tor- 
mentors. They directed their prayers to the bovine 
god Apis, whom they called Abir,^ and they also 
offered to the he-goats.- The daughter of Israel, 
growing up to womanhood, sacrificed her virtue, 
and abandoned herself to the Egyptians.^ It was 
probably thought that, in the images of the grass- 
eating animal, honour was paid to the god of the 
patriarchs. When the intellect is on a wrong track 
where are the limits for its imaginings ? The Israel- 
ites would have succumbed to coarse sensual idolatry 
and to Egyptian vice, like many other nations who 
had come under the influence of the people of the 
land of Ham, had not two brothers and their sister — 
the instruments of a higher Spirit — aroused them 
and drawn them out of their lethargy. These were 
MosES, Aaron and Miriam.* In what did the 
greatness of this triad consist ? What intellectual 
powers led them to undertake their work of redemp- 
tion, the elevating and liberating effect of which was 
intended to range far beyond their own times ? 
Past ages have left us but few characteristic traits 
of Moses, and barely any of his brother and sister, 
which could enable us to comprehend, from a human 
point of view, how they rose step by step from the 
obscurity of an infant stage to the height of far- 
seeing mental prophecy, and by what means they 
rendered themselves worthy of their exalted mission. 
The brother prophets belonged to that tribe which, 
through its superior knowledge, was regarded as 
the sacerdotal tribe, namely, the tribe of Levi. 
This tribe, or at least this family, doubtless pre- 
served the memorial of the patriarchs, and of the 

' In Hebrew the word Abtrme^nsbnU, mii^/ify, and lience God. It 
is connected with the Egyptian abr (a bull), from which Apis is 
derived. Conf. Jeremiah xlvi. 15. 

^ Lcvit. xvii. 7. The sending of the scape-goat to Azazel marked 
the abomination in which this lascivious cult was held. 

^ Conf. Ezekiel \xiii. 7, 8. 

* Micah vi. 7, mentions also Miriam, like her brothers, as a de- 

CH. I. MOSES. 13 

law of the God of their fathers, and had accord- 
ingly kept itself aloof from Egyptian idolatry and 
Egyptian horrors. 

Thus it was that Aaron, the elder brother, as 
also Moses and Miriam, had grown up in an 
atmosphere of greater moral and religious purity. 
Of Moses the historical records relate that after his 
birth his mother kept him concealed during three 
months, to evade the royal command, and protect 
him from death in the waters of the Nile. There 
is no doubt that the youthful Moses was well ac- 
quainted with Pharaoh's court at Memphis or Tanis 
(Zoan). Gifted with an active intellect, he had an 
opportunity of acquiring the knowledge that was 
to be learnt in Egypt, and by his personal and 
intellectual qualities he won the affections of all 
hearts. But even more than by these qualities, he 
was distinguished by his gentleness and modesty. 
*' Moses was the meekest of men," is the only 
praise which the historical records have bestowed 
upon him. He is not praised for heroism or war- 
like deeds, but for unselfishness and self-abnega- 

Influenced by the ancient teaching, that the God 
of Abraham loved righteousness, he must have 
been repelled by the baseless idolatry of animal 
worship, and by the social and moral wrongs which 
then were rife. Shameless vice, the bondage of a 
whole people under kings and priests, the inequality 
of castes, the treatment of human beings as 
though they were beasts, or inferior to beasts, the 
spirit of slavery, all these evils he recognised in 
their full destructive force, and he perceived that 
the prevailing debasement had defiled his brethren. 
Moses was the open antagonist of injustice. It 
grieved him sorely that Israel's sons were subjected 
to slavery, and were daily exposed to ill-treat- 
ment by the lowest of the Egyptians. One day 
when he saw an Egyptian unjustly beating a 


Hebrew, his passion overcame his self-control, 
and he punished the offender. Fearing discovery, 
he fled from Egypt into the desert, and halted at 
an oasis in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai, 
where the Kenites, an offshoot of the tribe of 
Midianites, were dwelling. Here, as in Egypt, he 
witnessed oppression and wrong-doing, and here 
also he opposed it with zeal. He gave his aid to 
feeble shepherdesses. By such action he came into 
contact with their grateful father, the priest or 
elder of the tribe of the Midianites, and he married 
Zipporah, the daughter of that priest. 

Elis employment in Alidian was that of a shep- 
herd. He selected fertile grazing plots for the herds 
of Reuel, his father-in-law, between the Red Sea and 
the mountain lands. In this solitude the prophetic 
spirit came upon him. What is the meaning of this 
prophetic spirit ? Until now even those who have 
searched the secrets of the world, or the secrets of 
the soul in its grasp of the universe, even they can 
give of it only a faint notion, but no distinct account. 
The inner life of man has depths which have re- 
mained inscrutable for the keenest researches of 
the investigator. It is however undeniable that 
the human mind can without help from the senses, 
cast a far-seeing glance into the enigmatic chains 
of events, and into the combined display of exist- 
ing forces. By means of an undisclosed faculty of 
the soul, man has discovered truths which are not 
within the reach of the senses. The organs of 
the senses can only confirm or rectify the truths 
already elicited. They cannot discover them. By 
means of the truths brought to light by that inex- 
plicable power of the soul, man has learned to know 
nature and to make its forces subservient to his will. 
These facts attest that the power of the soul owns 
properties which go beyond the ken of the senses 
and transcend the skilled faculties of human reason. 
Such properties lift the veil of the dim future, for 


the purpose of discovering higher truths concerning 
the moral conduct of man ; they are even capable 
of beholding a something of that mysterious Being 
who has- formed and who maintains the universe 
and the combined action of all its forces. A soul 
devoted to mundane matters and to selfishness 
can never attain to this degree of perfection. 
But should not a soul which is untouched by selfish- 
ness, undisturbed by low desires and passions, 
unsoiled by profanity and the stains of every-day 
life, a soul which is completely merged in the 
Deity and in a longing for moral superiority, — • 
should not such a soul be capable of beholding a 
revelation of religious and moral truths ? 

During successive centuries of Israel's history 
there arose pure-minded men, who unquestionably 
could look far into the future, and who received 
and imparted revelations concerning God and the 
holiness of life. This is an historical fact which will 
stand any test. A succession of prophets predicted 
the future destiny of the Israelites and of other 
nations, and these predictions have been verified by 
fulfilment. These prophets placed the son of Amram 
as first on the list of men to whom a revelation 
was vouchsafed, and high above themselves, because 
his predictions were clearer and more positive. 
They recognised in Moses not only the first, but 
also the greatest of prophets ; and they considered 
their prophetic spirit as a mere reflection of his 
mind. If ever the soul of a mortal was endowed with 
luminous prophetic foresight, this was the case with 
the pure, unselfish, and sublime soul of Moses. In 
the desert of Sinai, says the ancient record, at the 
foot of Horeb, where the flock of his father-in-law 
was grazing, he received the first divine revelation, 
which agitated his whole being. Moved and elated 
— humble, yet confident, Moses returned after this 
vision to his flock and his home. He had been 
changed into another being ; he felt himself impelled 



by the spirit of God to redeem his tribal brethren 
from bondage, and to educate them for a higher 
moral life. 

Aaron, who had remained in Egypt, likewise 
had a revelation to meet his brother on Mount 
Horeb, and to prepare himself jointly with him for 
the work of redemption. The task of imbuing the 
servile spirit of the people with a desire for liberty 
seemed to them far more difficult than that of in- 
ducing Pharaoh to act with mercy. Both brothers 
therefore expected to encounter obstacles and stub- 
born opposition. Although both men were already 
advanced in years, they did not shrink from the mag- 
nitude of the undertaking, but armed themselves with 
prophetic courage, and relied on the support of the 
God of their fathers. First they turned to the re- 
presentatives of families and tribes, to the elders of 
the people, and announced their message that God 
would take pity on Israel's misery, that He had 
promised them freedom, and that He would lead 
them back to the land of their fathers. The elders 
lent a willing ear to the joyful news ; but the 
masses, who were accustomed to slavery, heard 
the words with cold indifference. Heavy labour 
had made them cowardly and distrustful. They 
did not even desire to abstain from worshipping 
the Egyptian idols. Every argument fell unheeded 
on their obtuse minds. "It is better for us to 
remain enthralled as bondsmen to the Egyptians 
than to die in the desert." Such was the appa- 
rently rational answer of the people. 

The brothers appeared courageously before the 
Egyptian King, and demanded, in the name of the 
God who had sent them, that their people should be 
released from slavery, for they had come into the 
country of their own free will, and had preserved 
their iiralienable right to liberty. If the Israelites 
were at first unwilling to leave the country, and 
to struggle with the uncertainties of the future, 


Pharaoh was still less inclined to let them depart. 
The mere demand that he should liberate hundreds 
of thousands of slaves who worked in his fields and 
buildings, and that he should do so in the name of 
a God whom he knew not, or for the sake of a cause 
which he did not respect, induced him to double the 
work of the Hebrew slaves, in order to deprive 
them of leisure for thoughts of freedom. Instead 
of meeting with a joyful reception, Moses and Aaron 
found themselves overwhelmed with reproaches 
that through their fault the misery of the unfortu- 
nate sufferers had been increased. The king only 
determined to give way after he and his country 
had been afflicted by various terrifying and extra- 
ordinary phenomena and by plagues, and when he 
could no longer free himself from the thought that the 
unknown God was punishing him for his obstinacy. 
In consequence of successive calamities, the Egyp- 
tian king urged the Israelites to hasten and depart, 
fearing lest any delay might bring destruction upon 
him and his country. . The Israelites had barely 
time to supply themselves with the provisions neces- 
sary for their long and wearisome journey. Memo- 
rable was the daybreak of the fifteenth of Nisan 
(March), on which the enslaved people regained 
their liberty without shedding a drop of blood. 
They were the first to whom the great value of 
liberty was made known, and since then this price- 
less treasure, the foundation of human dignity, has 
been guarded by them as the apple of the eye. 

Thousands of Israelites, their loins girded, their 
staves in their hands, their little ones riding on 
asses, and their herds following them, left their 
villages and tents, and assembled near the town 
of Rameses. Strange tribes Who had lived by 
their side, shepherd tribes akin to them in race 
and language, joined them in their migration. 
They all rallied round the prophet Moses, obeying 
his words. He was their king, although he had 

VOL. I. . c 


eschewed all love of dominion ; and he was the first 
promulgator of the doctrine of equality amongst 
men. The duty devolving on him during this 
exodus was more difficult to discharge than his 
message to the king and to the people of Israel. 
Only few amongst these thousands of newly-liberated 
slaves could comprehend the great mission assigned 
to them. But the masses followed him stolidly.' 
Out of this horde of savages he had to form a 
nation, conquer a home for them, establish a code 
of laws, and render them capable of leading a life 
of rectitude. In this difficult task he could only 
reckon with certainty on the tribe of Levi, who 
shared his sentiments and assisted him in his 
arduous duties as teacher. 

Whilst the Egyptians were burying the dead 
which the plague had suddenly stricken down, the 
Israelites — being the fourth generation of the first 
immigrants — left Egypt, after a sojourn of several 
centuries. They journeyed towards the desert 
which divides Egypt from Canaan, on the same way 
by which the last patriarch had entered the Nile 
country. But Moses would not permit them to go 
by this short route, because he feared that the 
inhabitants of Canaan, on the coast of the Mediter- 
ranean, would oppose their entry with an armed 
force ; he also apprehended that the tribes, whom 
their long bondage had made timorous, would take 
to flight on the first approach of danger. ^ 

Their first destination was Mount Sinai, where 
they were to receive those laws and precepts for the 
practice of which they had been set free. Pharaoh 
had, however, determined to recapture the slaves 
who had been snatched from his grasp. He had 
already repented that, in a moment of weakness, he 
had let them depart. When the Israelites saw the 
Egyptians approaching from afar, they gave way 
to despair, for they found themselves cut off from 
every means escape. Before them was the sea. 


and behind them the enemy, who would soon over- 
take them, and undoubtedly reduce them again to 
bondage. Crying and lamenting, some of them 
asked Moses, *' Are there no graves in Egypt that 
thou hast brought us out to die in the desert?" 
However, a means of escape unexpectedly presented 
itself, and could only be regarded by them as a 
miracle. A hurricane from the north-east had driven 
the water of the sea southwards during the night, 
so that the bed had for the greater part become dry. 
Their leader quickly seized on this means of escape, 
and urged the frightened people to hurry towards 
the opposite shore. His prophetic spirit showed 
him that they would never again see the Egyptians. 
They rapidly traversed the short distance of the dry 
sea- shore, whilst the deeper parts of the water, 
agitated by a storm, formed two walls on the right 
and left. During this time the Egyptians were in 
hot pursuit after the Israelites, in the hope of leading 
them back to slavery. At daybreak, they reached 
the west coast of the sea, and perceiving the Is- 
raelites on the other side, they hastened after them 
along the dry pathway, when the tempest suddenly 
ceased. The mountain-like waves which had risen 
like walls on both sides, now poured down upon the 
dry land, and covered men, horses, and chariots in 
the watery deep. The sea washed some corpses to 
the coast where the Israelites were resting in safety. 
They here beheld a marvellous deliverance. The 
most callous became deeply impressed with this 
sight, and looked with confidence to the future. On 
that day they put their firm trust in God and in 
Moses His messenger. With a loud voice they 
sang praises for their wonderful deliverance. In 
chorus they sang — 

" I will praise the Lord, 
For He is ever glorious. 
The horse and his rider He cast into the sea." 

The deliverance from Egypt, the passage through 

c 2 


the sea, and the sudden destruction of their resentful 
enemy, were three occurrences which the Israelites 
had witnessed, and which would never pass from 
their memories. In times of the greatest danger 
and distress, the recollection of this scene inspired 
them with courage and with the assurance that the 
God who had redeemed them from Egypt, who 
had turned the water into dry land, and had de- 
stroyed their cruel enemy, would never desert them, 
but would ** ever reign over them." Although the 
multitude did not long retain this trustful and pious 
disposition, but fell into despondency at every new 
difficulty, the intelligent portion of the Israelites 
were in subsequent trials sustained by their expe- 
riences at the Red Sea. 

The tribes, delivered from the bonds of slavery, 
and from the terrors of long oppression, could 
peaceably now pursue their way. They had yet 
many days' journey to Sinai, the temporary goal 
of their wanderings. Although the country through 
which they travelled was a sandy desert, it was not 
wanting in water and in pasture land for the shep- 
herds. This territory was not unknown to Moses, 
their leader, who formerly pastured here the flocks of 
his father-in-law. In the high mountain ranges of 
Sinai and its spurs, the water in the spring-time 
gushes forth copiously from the rocks, forms into 
rills, and rushes down the slopes towards the Red 
Sea. Nor did the Israelites suffer through a want of 
bread, for in its stead they partook of manna. Find- 
ing this substance in large quantities, and living 
on it during a long time, they came to consider its 
presence as a miracle. It is only on this peninsula 
that drops sweet as honey exude from the high 
tamarisk trees, which abound in that region. 
These drops issue forth in the early morn- 
ing, and take the globular size of peas or of 
coriander seeds ; but in the heat of the sun they 
melt away. Elated by their wonderful experiences 


the tribes now seemed prepared for receiving their 
holiest treasure, for the sake of which they had 
made the long circuitous journey through the 
desert of Sinai. From Rephidim which lies on a 
considerable altitude, they were led upwards to 
the highest range of the mountain, the summit 
of which appears to touch the clouds.^ To this 
spot Moses led the Israelites in the third month 
after the exodus from Egypt, and appointed their 
camping ground. He then prepared them for 
an astounding phenomenon, which appealed both 
to the eye and the ear. By prayer and absti- 
nence they were bidden to render themselves fit 
and worthy for lofty impressions and for their 
exalted mission. With eager expectation and 
anxious hearts they awaited the third day. A wall 
round the nearest mountain summit prevented the 
people from approaching too closely. On the 
morning of the third day a heavy cloud covered 
the mountain top ; lightning flashed along and 
enveloped the mountain in a blaze of fire. Peals of 
thunder shook the surrounding mountains and 
awakened the echoes. All nature was in uproar, 
and the world's end seemed to be at hand. With 
trembling and shaking the old and the young 
beheld this terrifying spectacle. But its terror 
did not surpass the awfulness of the words heard 
by the affrighted people. The clouds of smoke, 
the lightning, the flames and the peals of thunder 
had only served as a prelude to these portentous 

Mightily impressed by the sight of the flaming 
mountain, the people clearly heard the command- 
ments which, simple in their import, and intelligible 
to every human being, form the elements of all 

' The situation of Sinai is not to be sought in the so-called Sinaitic 
peninsula, but near the land of Edom, on the confines of which was 
the desert of Paran. Neither Jebel Musa, with the adjacent peaks 
of Jebel Catherine and Ras-es-Sufsafeh, nor Mount Jerbal, was the 
true Sinai. See " Monalschrift," by Frankel- Graetz, 1878, p. 2)37- 


culture. Ten commands rang forth from the 
mountain-top. The people became firmly con- 
vinced that the words were revealed by God. 
Theft and bearing false witness were stigmatised 
as crimes. The voice of Sinai condemned evil 
thoughts no less than evil acts ; hence the pro- 
hibition, '' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's 
wife . . . nor any possession of thy neighbour." 
The Indians, the Egyptians, and other nations 
famous for their colossal structures, had during 
more than two thousand years gone through many 
historical experiences which shrink into utter insig- 
nificance when compared with this one momentous 

The work accomplished at Sinai was perfected by 
an instantaneous act, and remained applicable to 
all times by perpetuating the supremacy of ethical 
life and the dignity of mankind. This promulga- 
tion of the Law marked the natal hour of the 
** distinct people," like unto which none had ever 
existed. The sublime and eternal laws of Sinai — 
coming from a Deity, whom the senses cannot 
perceive, from a Redeemer who releases the en- 
thralled and the oppressed — were revealed truths 
treating of filial duty, of spotless chastity, of the 
inviolable safety of human life and property, of social 
integrity, and of the purity of every sentiment. 

The Israelites had been led to Mount Sinai as 
trembling bondsmen ; now they came back to their 
tents as God's people of priests, as a righteous 
nation (jfeshurun). By practically showing that the 
Ten Commandments are applicable to all the con- 
cerns of life, the Israelites were constituted the 
teachers of the human race, and through them all 
the families of the earth were to be blessed. No 
community of men could ever have surmised that 
even for its own well-being an isolated and insig- 
nificantly small nation had been charged with the 
arduous task of the preceptive office. 

CH. I. THE LAW. 23' 

The Sinaitic teachings were not of an ephemeral 
nature, even in regard to their form. Being en- 
graven on tables of stone, they could be easily 
remembered by successive generations. During a 
long period these inscribed slabs remained in the 
custody of the Israelites, and were called *' the 
Tables of the Testimony," or **the Tables of the 
Law." Being placed in an ark, which became a 
rallying centre, round which Moses used to assemble 
the elders of the families, these tables served as a 
sign of the Sinaitic Covenant. They formed a link 
between God and the people who had formerly been 
trodden under foot, and who were now bidden to own 
no other Lord save the One from whom the Law had 
gone forth. It was for this reason that the ark, as the 

repository of the tables, was designated '' the Ark of 

the Covenant." The ethical truths of Sinai became 
henceforth the basis for a new system of morality, 
and for the national constitution of the Israelites. 
These truths were further developed in special laws 
which had a practical bearing upon the public and 
private affairs of the people. Slave-holders and 
slaves w^ere no longer to be found amongst the 
Israelites. The selling of slaves and perpetual ser- 
vitude became unlawful. A man who forfeited his 
liberty was liable to be held in service during six 
years, but in the seventh year he regained his free- 
dom. Wilful murder and disrespect to parents were 
punishable with death. The sanctuary could give v 
no protection to criminals condemned to die. The 
murder of a non-Israelite involved condign punish- 
ment. A servant ill-treated by his master recovered 
his liberty. A man committing an offence on 
the virtue of a maiden was bound to make her his 
wife, and to pay a fine to the father of the injured 
woman. Equitable and humane treatment of the 
widow and the orphan was enforced ; a similar pro- 
vision was ordained for the benefit of strangers who 
had joined one of the tribes. The Israelites, in fact, 


were bidden to remember their former sojourn in a 
foreign land, and to refrain from inflicting upon 
strangers the inhuman treatment which they them- 
selves had formerly endured. 

This spirit of equity and brotherly love, though 
pervading the ancient code of laws, could not pro- 
duce an instantaneous effect. The duties involved 
in these laws being of a spiritual nature, were in 
marked contrast with the former habits of the Is- 
raelites. Moses having temporarily absented him- 
self to make preparations for the reception of the 
Sinaitic law, the dull-witted portion of the people 
imagined that their God was abandoning them in 
the desert, and they clamoured for the rule of a 
visible Godhead. Aaron, who took the lead in the 
absence of Moses, timorously yielded to this impe- 
tuous demand, and countenanced the production of a 
golden idol. This image of Apis or Mnevis received 
divine homage from the senseless multitude who 
danced around it. Moses, on descending from 
Mount Sinai, ordered the Levites to put to death 
some thousands of the people. Nothing but the 
exercise of extreme rigour could have repressed 
this worship of idols. 

With the object of protecting the people from a 
relapse into idolatry, and of supporting them dur- 
ing their state of transition from barbarism, they 
were allowed to form a conception of the Deity — 
though not by means of an image — through some 
material aid which should appeal to the senses. On 
Sinai they beheld flashes of lightning with flames 
of fire, and from the midst of a burning cloud they 
heard the Ten Commandments. This phenomenon 
continually served to remind the people of the pre- 
sence of the Deity as revealed at Sinai. With this 
object it was ordained that a perpetual fire should 
be kept alight on a portable altar, and should be 
carried before the tribes during their migrations. 
Not the Deity Himself, but the revelation of the 


Deity at Sinai, should thereby be made perceptible 
to the sense of vision. The performance of sacri- 
ficial rites was a further concession to the crude 
perceptions of the people. 

The intellectual religion promulgated at Sinai 
did not employ sacrifices as the final expression of 
divine adoration, but was designed for the realisa- 
tion of a moral and holy life ; the people, however, 
had not yet risen to this conception, and could 
only be advanced by the aid of education and 
culture. The other ancient nations having found 
in sacrifices the means of propitiating their deities, 
the Israelites were permitted to retain the same 
mode of divine service ; but its form was simplified. 
The altar became an integral part of the sanc- 
tuary, in which no image was tolerated. The only 
objects contained therein were a candelabrum, 
a table with twelve loaves, symbolising the twelve 
tribes ; and there was also a recess for the Ark of the 
Covenant. Priests being required for the perform- 
ance of sacrifices, they preserved amongst the Israel- 
ites the three rites practised by other nations. The 
Levites, as the most devoted and best informed 
tribe, were charged with sacerdotal functions, as 
during the sojourn in Egypt. The priests of Israel, 
unlike those of the Egyptians, were precluded from 
holding landed property, as such possessions might 
have tempted them to misuse their prerogatives, 
and neglect their sacred duties. For this reason 
it was prescribed that their subsistence should be 
derived from the offerings made by the people. 
Collaterally there existed a custom, dating from 
remote patriarchal ages, which demanded that the 
first-born son of every family should attend to 
the performance of sacrificial rites. These duties 
coming into collision with those of the Levites 
could not be abruptly abolished, and stood in the 
way of the pure Sinaitic teachings. The materialism 
of the age demanded indulgent concessions, com- 


bined with provisions tending to the refinement 
of popular habits. Only through the aid of better 
instructed men could the people gradually be made 
to understand the non-essential nature of sacrifices. 

During their forty years of wandering in the 
desert the Israelites sought pastures for their flocks 
in the interior, and also in the proximity of the 

During these migrations Moses instructed the 
people. The older generation gradually passed 
away. Their descendants, obedient to the teach- 
ings of the lawgiver and his disciples, formed a 
docile, pious, and valiant community, and became 
proficient in the knowledge of their laws. 

Moses now surrounded himself with councillors, 
who were the chiefs of seventy families. This system 
became a model for later forms of administration. 
The Council of Elders joined in important delibera- 
tions and assisted in the management of public 
business. On the advice of Jethro, his father- 
in-law, Moses appointed inferior and higher judges, 
who respectively had under their jurisdiction ten, 
a hundred, and a thousand families. The people 
had the right of electing their own judges, whose 
appointment they then recommended to Moses. 
These judges were charged to maintain strict im- 
partiality in cases of litigation between members of 
the tribes of Israel, or between Israelites and 
strangers. Nor was it within the discretion of the 
judges to make distinctions between persons of 
high and low degree. They were also commanded 
to keep their hands clean from bribes, and to give 
their verdicts according to the principles of equity, 
^' for justice belongs unto God." Moses further 
pointed out to them that justice must be rightly 
dispensed, because its source is in God himself. 
Brotherly love, mutual concord, equality before the 
law, equity and mercy were the high ideals which 
he held before his disciples. The announcement 


of these laws and teachings marked an eventful era 
in human history. As such it was characterised by 
the prophets, who called it '' the bridal time of the 
daughter of Israel;" and the season of **her 
espousals, when she went after her God in the land 
which was not sown." 

Israel's wanderings had nearly come to a con- 
clusion, and the younger generation was well fitted 
for the attainment of the object of its settlement. 
A further sojourn in the desert would have inured 
the people to habits of restlessness, and might have 
reduced them for ever to the nomadic condition of 
the Midianites and the Amalekites, They appear to 
have made an unsuccessful raid in a northern direc- 
tion whilst pursuing the journey along the caravan 
roads. In a second defeat some of them were 
captured by their enemies. But this discomfiture 
was apparently avenged by combatants belonging 
to the tribe of Judah, who were aided by men of 
the tribe of Simeon, and by Kenites, with whose 
assistance they seized several cities. 

The other tribes were prepared to effect an 
entrance into the country by following a circuitous 
route on the eastern side. This expedition might 
have been shortened if the Idumeans, who dwelt on 
the mountain ranges of Seir, had permitted the 
Israelites to pass through their territory. Ap- 
parently the Idumeans were afraid that the invading 
Israelites would dispossess them of the land, and 
they therefore sallied forth to obstruct the direct 
road. Their opposition forced the tribes of Israel to 
make a long detour round the country of Idumea, 
and to turn to the east of the mountain ranges of 
Seir in order to approach Canaan from the opposite 
side. Not beingpermittedto attackthe Idumeansand 
the kindred tribes of the Ammonites, the Israelites 
had to traverse the border of the eastern desert in 
order to reach the inhabited regions at the source 
of the Arnon, which river fiows into the Dead Sea, 


Moses now sent conciliatory messages to Sihon, 
to request that the people might pass through his 
territory on their way to the Jordan. Sihon refused 
his consent, and marched an army to the borders of 
the desert to oppose the advance of the invaders. 
.The Israelites, animated with youthful ardour, 
surpassed their fathers in prowess and in power of 
onslaught. They put themselves in battle array 
and routed the hostile troops, whose king they slew 
at Jahaz. 

This victory was highly advantageous to the 
Israelites ; it strengthened their position and in- 
spired them with self-reliance. They at once took 
possession of the conquered district, and henceforth 
abandoned their nomadic life. Whilst the Israelites 
felt confident of success in conquering the Land 
of Promise, the Canaanites, on the other hand, 
were terror-stricken at the defeat of the mighty 
Sihon. The Israelites could now move about 
freely, being no longer incommoded by the narrow 
belt of the desert, nor by the suspicions of un- 
friendly tribes. Dangers having given way to a 
state of security, this sudden change of circum- 
stances aroused in their bosoms virtuous emotions, 
together with ignoble passions. 

The people of Moab now perceived that their 
feeble existence was threatened by their new 
neighbours. Balak, their king, felt that he could 
not cope with the Israelites in the open field of battle, 
and he preferred to employ the arts of Balaam, the 
Idumean or Midianite magician, whose maledic- 
tions were supposed to have the power of calling 
down distress and destruction on an entire people 
or on a single individual. Balaam being struck 
with amazement at the sight of Israel's encamp- 
ment, the intended maledictions were changed on 
his lips into blessings. He averred that *' no en- 
chantment avails against Jacob, and no divination 
against Israel," a glorious future being assured to 


that people. But he advised the king to have 
recourse to a different charm, which might have a 
pernicious effect upon the Israelites, namely, to 
beguile them to the vice of profligacy by means 
of depraved temple maidens. 

Balak accepted this advice. The Israelites, 
during their migrations, had lived on friendly terms 
with the wandering Midianites, and entertained 
no suspicions when admitting the latter into their 
encampments and tents. Counselled by Balaam 
and instigated by Balak, many Midianities brought 
their wives and daughters into the tents of the 
Israelites, who were then invited to join the 
idolatrous festivities at the shrine of Baal-peor. 
On such occasions it was the custom for women to 
sacrifice in the tents their sense of virtue, and the 
guerdon of dishonour was then presented as an 
oblation to the idols. Many an Israelite was led 
into profligacy by these allurements, and partook 
of the sacrificial feasts — two sins which tended to 
sap the foundation of the doctrine revealed on 
Sinai. Unhappily no one in Israel seemed willing 
to obey the command of Moses by checking this 
outbreak of vice. Phineas, Aaron's grandson, was 
the only man whose heart revolted against these 
excesses. Seeing that a Midianite woman with 
a chief of the tribe of Simeon entered a tent, 
he stabbed both of them to death ; and thus 
was the raging plague turned away from the 

On the other hand, there was now witnessed a 
significant change in Israel. The unexpected and 
eventful victories had aroused amongst them the 
melodious power of song — a first indication of 
that talent, without which no nation can attain to a 
superior degree of culture. The first songs of the 
Hebrew muse were those of war and victory. The 
authors [moshelun) of warlike hymns rose at once 
in public estimation, and their productions were 



preserved in special collections, as for example, in 
the Book of the Wars of God. |i 

Hebrew poetry in its early stages was deficient 1 
in depth and elegance, but it had two characteristics i 
which in the course of time were developed to '\ 
the highest stage of refinement. With regard ; 
to form it exhibited a symmetry in the component j 
parts of each verse (paral/elismus membroruTU), \ 
An identical train of thought was repeated with ; 
appropriate variations in two or even three divi- \ 
sions of the verse. In the treatment of a theme, \ 
the muse of early Hebrew poetry displayed a ten- ; 
dency to irony ; this being the result of a twofold I 
conception, namely, that of the ideal aspect by the t; 
side of antithetic reality. 

The Israelites, seeking to arrive at the goal of { 
their wishes and to gain possession of the Land of | 
Promise, could not tarry in the fertile region be- ' 
tween the Arnon and the Jabbok. They had to \ 
prepare for crossing the Jordan. But now the evil | 
consequences of having triumphed over Sihon and I 
Og became manifest. The tribes of Reuben and | 
Gad announced that they wished to remain in the | 
conquered land, because its verdant pastures were | 
well adapted for their numerous flocks and their i 
herds of cattle and camels. In making such a 
demand it appeared that these tribes desired to 
sever their lot from that of their brethren, and to 
live as [independent nomads. Oppressed with this , 
cause of anxiety, Moses reproached them bitterly j 
for their defection, but felt constrained to grant 
them the conquered land under the condition that 
a contingent of their combatants should assist the 
warriors of the brother-tribes and follow them 
across the Jordan. This allotment of land to 
the two tribes caused an unexpected territorial 
division. The land possessed by these tribes 
became known as the Trans-Jordanic territory 
{Eber ha-Jarden or Peraea), In the process of 


time this concession proved more injurious than 

The rest of the tribes were on the eve of crossing 
the Jordan when their great leader Moses was 
removed by death. The thirty days which the 
Israelites spent in mourning were no excessive 
sacrifice. His loss was irreparable, and they felt 
themselves utterly bereft. Amongst all lawgivers, 
founders of states, and teachers of mankind, none 
has equalled Moses. Not only did he, under the 
most inauspicious circumstances, transform a horde 
of slaves into a nation, but he imprinted on it the 
seal of everlasting existence : he breathed into 
the national body an immortal soul. He held 
before his people ideals, the acceptance of which 
was indispensable, since all their weal and woe 
depended upon the realisation or non-realisation 
of those ideals. Moses could well declare that he 
had carried the people as a father carries his child. 
His patience and his courage had rarely deserted 
him; his unselfishness, and his meekness of dis- 
position, were two prominent qualities, which, to- 
gether with his clear prophetic vision, eminently 
fitted him to be the instrument of the Deity. Free 
from jealousy, he wished that all Israelites might 
be prophets like himself, and that God would endue 
them with His spirit. Moses became at a subse- 
quent epoch the unattainable ideal of a prophet. 
Succeeding generations were elated by the thought 
that this brilliant example of humanity had watched 
the infant state of the people of Israel. Even the 
death of Moses served as an enduring lesson. 
In the land of Moab, in the valley facing Mount 
Peor — which was held sacred by the population of 
that district — he was quietly entombed, and to this 
day no one has known the spot where he lay buried. 
It was designed that the Israelites should not deify 
him, but should be kept from following the idola- 
trous practice of other nations, who deified their 


kings, and their men of real or presumed greatness, 
as also the founders of their religion. 

Sad at heart on account of the death of their 
beloved leader, who was not permitted to con- 
duct them into the Land of Promise, but comforted 
by the lofty recollections of the redemption from 
Egyptian bondage, the passage through the sea, and 
the revelation on Sinai — encouraged also by the 
victories over Sihon, Og, and the Midianites — the 
tribes of Israel crossed the Jordan, on a day in the 
bright spring time, and were conducted on their 
journey by Joshua the faithful disciple of Moses. 



Joshua's Succession — Passage of the Jordan — Conquest of Jericho — 
The Gibeonites — CoalitionofCanaanite Cities against the Israelites 
— Settlement in the Land— Isolation of the Tribes — Allotments — 
The Tribe of Levi — The Ark of the Covenant at Shiloh — Con- 
dition of Canaan at the time of the Conquest — Climate and 
Fertility — Intellectual Activity — Poetry of Nature — Remnants of 
Canaanite Populations — Death of Joshua. 

On crossing the Jordan and entering Canaan, the 
Israelites met with no resistance. Terror had 
paralysed the tribes and populations who then held 
the land. Nor were they united by any tie which 
might have enabled them to oppose the invaders. 
Although mention is made of thirty-one kings, 
besides those who ruled near the coast-line of the 
Mediterranean, these rulers were petty chiefs, who 
were independent of each other, and each of them 
governed only a single township with the adjoining 
district. They remained passive, whilst the Israelites 
were encamping near Gilgal, between the Jordan 
and Jericho. The fortress of Jericho — being ex- 
posed to the first brunt of an attack from the 
Israelites, and having no help to expect from 
elsewhere — was entirely left to its own resources. 
The tribes of Israel, on the other hand, were 
headed by a well-tried leader ; they were united, 
skilled in warfare, and eager for conquest. 

Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, 
was accepted as the rightful successor of the great 
Prophet. Moses having laid his hands upon the 
disciple, had endowed him with his spirit. Yet 
Joshua was far from being a prophet. Practical in 
his aspirations, he was more concerned in affairs 
of immediate necessity and utility, than in ideals of 

VOL. I. D 


the future. In his earlier years, when overthrowing 
the Amalekites near Rephidim, he had already 
given proof of courage and good generalship. His 
connection with the tribe of Ephraim, the most 
distinguished amongst the brother-tribes, was like- 
wise of advantage to his position as a commander. 
The Ephraimites, with their pride and obstinacy, 
would otherwise have withheld their allegiance. 
This tribe having yielded obedience to him, the 
other tribes readily followed the example. 

The first place to be attacked was Jericho. This 
city was situated in an exceedingly fertile mountain 
district. Here throve the lofty palm tree and 
the precious balsam shrub. Owing to the proximity 
of the Dead Sea, the climate of Jericho has during 
the greater part of the year a high temperature, 
and the vegetation ripens there earlier than in the 
interior of the country. The conquest of Jericho 
was, therefore, of primary importance ; this city 
was strongly fortified, and its inhabitants, timid 
under open attack, felt secure only within the 
precincts of their defences. The walls of Jericho, 
according to the scriptural narrative, crumbled to 
pieces at the mighty and far-sounding shouts of 
Israel's warriors. They entered the city; and, 
meeting with little resistance, they slew the 
population, which was enfeebled by depraved 
habits. After this easy victory the warriors of 
Israel became impetuous, and they imagined that a 
small portion of their force was sufficient to reduce 
Ai, a scantily populated fortress, which lay at a 
distance of two or three hours' journey to the north. 
Joshua therefore sent against Ai a small detachment 
of his men, but at the first onslaught they were 
repulsed, and many of them were slain on the field 
of battle. This defeat spread terror among the 
Israelites, who feared that they were forsaken by 
God ; whilst it gave new courage to the Canaanites. 
It was only when the entire army had been drawn 


up, and by the employment of a stratagem, that 
Joshua succeeded in taking Ai. Bethel, situated 
in the vicinity, likewise fell by a ruse into the 
hands of the Ephraimites. These two mountain- 
fastnesses being captured, the inhabitants of the 
adjoining towns and villages became even more 
faint-hearted. Without awaiting an attack they 
abandoned their homes, and fled to the north, 
the west and the south. The country being 
more or less denuded of its inhabitants, was 
now occupied by the conquerors. The Gibeonites, 
or Hivites, in the tract of land called Gibeon, freely 
submitted to Joshua and his people. They agreed 
that the Israelites should share with them the pos- 
session of their territory on the condition that their 
lives should be spared. Joshua and the elders 
having agreed to these terms, the compact, ac- 
cording to the practice of that age, was ratified 
by an oath. In this way the Israelites acquired 
possession of the whole mountain district from the 
borders of the great plain to the vicinity of Jeru- 
salem, the subsequent metropolis of Palestine. The, 
borderland of the plain separated the original in- 
habitants of the north from those of the south, 
and neither of these populations was willing to 
render help to the other. The southern Canaanites 
now became more closely allied. The apprehension 
that their land might fall an easy prey to the in- 
vaders overcame their mutual jealousies and their 
love of feud ; being thus brought into closer union 
with each other, they ventured to engage in aggres- 
sive warfare. Five kings, or rather chiefs of town- 
ships, those of Jebus (Jerusalem), Hebron, Jarmuth, 
Lachish and Eglon, joined together to punish the 
Gibeonites for submitting to the invaders, for whom 
they had opened the road, and whom they had helped 
to new conquests. The Gibeonites, in face of this 
danger, implored the protection of Joshua, who forth- 
with led his victorious warriors against the allied 

D 2 


troops of the five towns, and inflicted on them a crush- ] 
ing defeat near Gibeon. The beaten army fled many ' 
miles towards the west and the south, and in their ; 
flight they were struck down by a hailstorm. This i 
day of battle appears to have been regarded as one 
of signal triumph ; its achievements were remem- ^: 
bered even five hundred years later, and were | 
commemorated in a martial song : — , 

" Joshua spake: 
' O Sun, stand thou still near Gibeon, 
And thou, O Moon, near the valley of Ajalon!' 
And the sun stood still, 
And the moon remained at rest, 
Until the people had chastised the foes." ^ 


The passage of the Jordan, auspicious beyond ^ 
expectation, and the rapid succession of victories jj 
were new wonders which could fitly be associated >; 
with those of ancient days. They afforded rich [ 
themes for praise, which was not ascribed to the I 
great deeds of the people, but to the marvellous ! 
working of the Deity. 

The victory at Gibeon opened access to the : 
south, and the Israelites could now freely move ■ 
their forces in that direction ; but there were still j 
some strongholds in the south which they could 
neither capture nor keep in subjection. ^ 

The principal work — the subjection of the cen- : 
tral portion of Canaan — being now accomplished, ; 
the tribes of Israel ceased to form one combined ; 
army, and in this severance they were probably i 
influenced by the example of the children of I 
Joseph. The latter, who were divided into the ; 
tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, claimed to have ; 
precedence in the ranks of Israel. This claim may \ 
be traced back, as has already been shown, to | 
their sojourn in Egypt, and also to the fact that ^ 
Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, was descended | 
from Ephraim. Hence it was that the children of I 

'Joshua X. 12, 13. I 


Joseph sought to obtain possession of the central 
mountain range, which abounded in springs and 
had a very rich soil. Shechem, the ancient town 
of the Hivites, being situated between Mount 
Gerizim and Mount Ebal, had on every side a 
good supply of water, and became the principal 
city of the land. But the two divisions, Ephraim 
and Manasseh, were unwilling to content them- 
selves with this desirable district (which was named 
** Mount Ephraim "). As Joshua was one of their 
own tribe, they expected from him the favours of a 
partizan, and that he would place no obstacle to their 
demands. They alleged, therefore, that the territory 
allotted to them was insufficient for their numerous 
families. They desired to possess not only the 
fine and fertile plain which extended many miles 
to the north, but also the land still more distant in 
the same direction round Mount Tabor ; but they 
did not find Joshua so yielding as they had anti- 
cipated. With a touch of irony he told them that 
since they were so numerous, they ought to be 
able to conquer Mount Tabor, in the land of the 
Perizzites and the Rephaites, where they might 
clear away the forest. Disappointed by this reply 
they withdrew from the expedition of the combined 
tribes, and were well able to content themselves 
with the extent of territory which had been 
originally allotted to them. Owing to this with- 
drawal from the common cause, the other tribes 
were induced to follow a similar course, and to 
acquire, independently of each other, the land neces- 
sary for their respective settlements. Four tribes 
fixed their attention upon the north, and four upon 
the south and the west. The expedition from 
which the sons of Joseph had retired was hazarded 
by the four tribes of Issachar, Zebulon, Asher, 
and Naphtali. They descended into the plain of 
Jezreel, where they left a portion of their settlers. 
Another portion pushed on to the northern hill 



regions, which touched the base of the lofty moun- [; 
tain range. These tribes were even less adapted ; 
than the children of Joseph for engaging in warfare ; 
with the inhabitants of the plain, to whose rapidly -j 
moving war-chariots they could have offered no ■ 
resistance. The children of Issachar were satisfied \ 
with the opportunity of acquiring pasture land ' 
in the great plain, and they had no desire to \ 
throw themselves into fortified cities. The men of \ 
this tribe appear to have placed themselves under \ 
the supremacy of the Canaanites, for they loved a : 
peaceful life, and as they found the land fertile they \ 
readily bore the imposition of tribute. Zebulon, the ^ 
twin tribe of Issachar, was more active, and appears [ 
to have conquered for itself a safe settlement in ^ 
the north of Mount Tabor. The remaining two 1 
tribes, Asher and Naphtali, seem to have been in ' 
need of much greater efforts to gain a firm '• 
footing among the neighbouring Canaanite popu- : 
lation, who were more combative and also more '. 
closely united. These warriors concentrated them- 
selves at Hazor, where Jabin, the local king, ruled ; 
over several districts. This king summoned the I 
inhabitants of the allied cities to take up arms and | 
destroy the invading Israelites. The tribes of ; 
Asher and Naphtali, unable to cope with the \ 
enemy, hastened to invoke Joshua's assistance. \ 
At that time a sense of mutual sympathy was still ' 
keen among the tribes, and Joshua found them 1 
ready to bring speedy relief to their brethren in ; 
the north. With these auxiliaries, and with the I 
men of Asher, and Naphtali, Joshua surprised the ' 
Canaanites, who were allied under King Jabin, near '■ 
Lake Merom, defeated them, and put the remainder ; 
to flight. This was the second great victory he | 
gained over the allied enemy. Through the \ 
battle of Merom the two tribes succeeded in firmly \ 
establishing themselves in the region situated at \ 
the west side of the upper course of the Jordan : 


and at the east side of the Mediterranean Sea. 
Asher and Naphtali being settled at the extreme 
north, occupied the position of out-posts, the former 
being placed at the west and the other at the east 
of the plateau. 

At the same time four other tribes acquired their 
settlements in the south ; and they relied upon their 
own efforts without being helped by the entire army 
of the people. The small tribe of Benjamin, more 
closely connected with the children of Joseph, was 
probably assisted by the latter in obtaining a nar- 
row and not very fertile strip of land at the southern 
frontier line. This was the district of the Gibeonites, 
with some appurtenances to the east and the west. 

The Canaanites, who dwelt in the western plain 
towards the sea-board, had also iron chariots, on 
which account the Israelites, soon after their in- 
vasion, did not venture to attack them. Still there 
was no alternative for the rest of the tribes, but to 
seek their homes in the western region. Judah was 
the most numerous and the mightiest of these tribes, 
and was joined by the children of Simeon, who 
subordinated themselves like vassals to a ruling 

At the southern extremity, near the desert, the 
Kenites, kinsmen and allies of the Israelites, had 
been domiciled since the days of Israel's wandering 
through the wilderness. By the friendly aid of this 
people the Judeans hoped to succeed more easily in 
gaining new dwelling-places. They avoided a war 
with the Jebusites, with whom they possibly had 
made a compact of peace, and went round the 
territory in which Jerusalem, the subsequent capital, 
was situated. 

The first place they captured was the ancient 
town of Hebron, where Caleb distinguished him- 
self by his bravery. Hebron became the chief city 
of the tribe of Judah. Kirjath-Sepher, or Debir, 
was taken by Othniel, Caleb's half-brother. Other 


leaders of this tribe continued the conquest of 
various other cities. In the earlier days, the tribe' 
of Judah seems to have lived on friendly terms 
with the original inhabitants of the land and to 
have dwelt peaceably by their side. The extensive 
settlement of Judah was better suited for pasture 
than for agriculture. The new settlers and the old 
inhabitants had therefore no inducements for dis- 
placing each other, or for indulging in a deadly 
strife. The large tracts of land were parcelled 
out into small plots where the Canaanites and Ama- 
lekites retained their homesteads. 

The tribe of Simeon had no independent pos- 
sessions, not even a single town which it could 
claim as its own, and was altogether merged in the 
tribe of Judah. The Simeonites dwelt in towns of 
Judah, without, however, having a voice in the 
deliberations of the tribe. The scantiest provision 
seems to have been made for the tribe of Dan, 
the number of families belonging to this tribe 
being apparently \ery small. Nor does it appear to 
have received such aid from a brother tribe as was 
given to Issachar and to Simeon. The Danites 
seem to have been followers of the tribe of Ephraim. 
This tribe selfishly allowed the Danites to acquire 
an insecure portion in the south-west of its own 
territory, or, rather, a small portion in the land of 
the Benjamites. It now devolved upon the Danites 
to conquer for themselves the land on the plain of 
Saron, which extends towards the sea, and to estab- 
lish themselves there. The Amorites, however, pre- 
vented them from accomplishing this design and 
forced them to retreat into the mountains ; but here 
the sons of Ephraim and the Benjamites refused 
them the possession of permanent dwelling-places. 
The Danites were therefore during a long time com- 
pelled to lead a camp-life, and at last one section of 
this tribe had to go in search of a settlement far 
away to the north. 


The conquest of Canaan had proceeded with such 
rapidity as to impress the contemporaries and the 
posterity of the people with the opinion that this 
success was the work of a miracle. Not quite half 
a century earlier the Israelites had been scared 
away from the borders of Palestine, after the spies 
had spread the report that the inhabitants of the 
land were too strong to be vanquished. The same 
inhabitants were now in such dread of the Israelites 
as to abandon their possessions without attempting 
to make any resistance, or if they did take 
up a defensive position they were easily routed. 
On this account the conviction gained ground 
amongst the Israelites that the Deity Himself had A 
led their warriors, and had scattered their opponents/ 
in utter confusion. This great conquest became,) 
therefore, the natural theme of spirited poetry. 

Although insufficient portions had been allotted 
to a few of the tribes, such as the Simeonites and 
the Danites, they 'still owned some lands which 
might afford a partial subsistence, and become the 
nucleus for a further extension of property. The 
Levites alone had been left altogether unprovided 
with landed possessions. This was done in strict 
conformity with the injunctions of Moses, lest the 
tribe of priests by misusing its rights of birth, 
should become affluent agriculturists, and be drawn 
away from their holy avocations by the desire of 
enriching themselves — like the Egyptian priests, 
who, under the pretext of defending the interest of 
religion, despoiled the people of its property, and 
formed a plutocratic caste. 

The Levites were to remain poor, and content 
themselves with the grants made to them by the 
owners of lands and herds, they being required to 
devote all their attention to the sanctuary and the 
divine law. 

During Joshua's rule the camp of Gilgal between 
the Jordan and Jericho was the centre of divine 


worship and of the Levltical encampment; here j 
also the ' tabernacle of the covenant had been \ 
erected and sacrifices were offered up. But Gilgal j 
could not permanently serve as the place for as- j 
sembling the people, for it lay in an unproductive \ 
and unfrequented district. As soon as the affairs ' 
of the people were more consolidated, and when i 
the Trans-Jordanic warriors had returned to their j 
homes, another locality had to be selected for the 
sanctuary. As a matter of course it was expedient 
that the sacred place should be situated within the 
confines of Ephraim. Joshua had likewise his seat 
amongst the Ephraimites, namely at Timnath- 
Serah, a town which that tribe had gratefully allotted 
to him. I 

Shiloh (Salem) was chosen as the spot for the j 
establishment of the sanctuary. When the ark of j 
the covenant arrived there, an altar was as a I 
matter of course erected by its side. Here the 
public assemblies were held, if riot by all the tribes, ' 
certainly by those of Ephraim, Manasseh and i. 
Benjamin. Phineas, the high priest of the house 
of Aaron, and the priests who succeeded him in ^, 
office, took up their abode in Shiloh. It is highly '■ 
probable that many of the Levites resided in that 
town whilst others were dispersed throughout the 
towns of the several tribes ; but on the whole they '■■ 
led a wandering life. 

Through the immigration of the Israelites the \ 
land of Canaan not only received a new name but 
assumed a different character. It became a *' Holy j 
Land," '' the Heritage of God," and was regarded 
as favourable to the people's destination of leading v 
a holy life. -^ 

Foreign countries, contrasted with Palestine, j 
appeared to them to be profane and utterly un- : 
adapted for perpetuating the devout worship of ; 
the One Spiritual God, or for enforcing the observ- . ^ 
ance of His law. The Holy Land was looked 



upon as if it were sensible of the pious or of the 
wicked conduct of its inhabitants. There were 
three iniquities which the land was supposed to 
spurn as the most heinous. These were murder, 
licentiousness, and idolatry. The conviction was 
general that on account of such misdeeds the land 
had cast out its former inhabitants, and that it 
would not retain the Israelites if they indulged 
in similar crimes. These ideas took deep root 
amongst the people of Israel, and they regarded 
Palestine as surpassing in its precious qualities 
every other country. It was, indeed, an undeniable 
fact that the Land of Israel (so it was named from 
the time when this people took possession of it) 
had striking distinctions whith were unequalled 
in any other portion of the globe. Within the small 
expanse of territory, one hundred and fifty miles by 
sixty, if the Trans-Jordanic region be included, 
contrasting peculiarities are crowded together which 
give to that country a marvellous character. The 
perpetual snow top^ of Lebanon and Hermon in 
the north, overlook the ranges of mountain and 
valleys far away to the sandy desert in the south, 
where a scorching heat, like that of tropical Africa, 
burns up all vegetation. In close proximity to each 
other, trees of various kinds are found to thrive, 
which elsewhere are separated by great distances. 
Here is the slender palm tree which only shoots 
up under a high temperature, and there grows 
the oak tree which cannot endure such a heat. 
If the heat of the south fires the blood, and fills 
man with violent passions, the wind sweeping over 
northern snow-fields, on the other hand, renders 
him calm, thoughtful, and deliberate. 

On two sides Palestine is bordered by water. The 
Mediterranean Sea, extending along the western 
margin of the land, forms inlets for ships. Along 
the eastern boundary flows the Jordan which takes 
its rise in the slopes of Mount Hermon and runs in 


nearly a straight line from north to south. In the 
north the Jordan flows through the '' Lake of the 
Harp " {Ktnnereth, Genesaretk, or Lake of Tiberias) 
and in the south this river is lost In the wonderful 
** Salt-sea." These two basins form likewise a 
strange contrast. The ^'Lake of the Harp" (also 
^*Lake of Galilee") contains sweet water. In its 
depths fishes of various kinds disport themselves. 
On its fertile banks the vine, the palm, the fig-tree, 
and other fruit-bearing trees are found to thrive. 
In the high temperature of this region the fruits 
arrive at their maturity a month earlier than on 
the mountain land. The Salt Sea or ^' The Sea of the 
Deep Basin" {arahali) produces a contrary effect, 
and has rightly beerf called the Dead Sea. In its 
waters no vertebrate animals can exist. The exces- 
sive quantities of salt, together with magnesia, 
and masses of asphalt contained in that sea, kill 
every living object. The atmosphere of this region 
is likewise Impregnated with salt, and as the adjacent 
land is intersected with lime-pits, it forms a dreary 
desert. The oval-shaped border of the Dead Sea 
rises in some parts to more than 1,300 feet above 
the water level, and being totally bare and barren, 
the entire district presents a most dismal aspect. 
Between the water-line and the rfiountain walls 
there are, however, some oases in which the balsam 
shrub thrives, and which in regard to fertility are 
not inferior to any spot on this earth. Being 
situated near the centre of the western sea-board, 
this strip of land Is exceedingly fruitful. But 
luxuriant as the vegetation of this place is, It is 
even surpassed by that of the oasis on the south- 
east corner of the Dead Sea. Here once stood 
the town of Zoar, which was noted as the city 
of palm-trees (Tamarah). This locality likewise 
favoured in former ages the growth of the balsam 
shrub. At a distance of ^v^ miles to the north- 
east, near the town of Beth-Haran, the famous 


balm of Gilead was found; but by the side of 
the Dead Sea miasmatic salt-marshes extend for 
a length of several miles. The shores of this 
sea and also of the Sea of Galilee send forth 
thermal springs impregnated with sulphur, and 
these serve to cure various maladies. 

The essentially mountainous configuration of 
Palestine was of great benefit to the Israelites. 
Two long and imposing mountain ranges, separated 
by a deep valley, raise their heads in the north, like 
two snow-capped giants. One of them is Mount 
Lebanon, the tallest peak of which has a height of 
more than 10,000 feet, and is named Dhor el-Khedib, 
The other mountain is Hermon (the Anti-Lebanon), 
the highest point of which, the Sheikh, has an 
elevation of 9,300 feet. The Lebanon was never 
included in the land of Israel ; it remained in the 
possession of the Phoenicians, the Aramaeans, and 
the people who succeeded the latter. This moun- 
tain range was of practical utility to the Israelites, 
who derived from its celebrated cedar forests the 
material for their edifices. Besides this, its lofty 
and odoriferous crests formed a favourite theme 
in the imagery of the Hebrew poets. Mount 
Hermon, with its snow-covered head, touches the 
north side of the ancient territory of Israel. This 
mountain, if not hidden by intervening hills, forms 
a charming object of admiration even at a distance 
of a hundred miles. 

The spurs of these two ranges were continued in 
the northern mountains of Israel (Mount Naphtali, 
subsequently named the mountains of Galilee), the 
highest peak of which rises to 4,000 feet. These 
heights have a gradual slope towards the great and 
fertile plain of Jezreel, which is only 500 feet above 
the level of the sea. Several mountain ranges 
intersect this plain, and divide it into smaller plains. 
Mount Tabor (1,865 ^^^^ high) is not so much 
distinguished for its height as for its cupola-shape. 


Mount Moreh (1,830 feet), now called Ed-Dtiky^ 
seems to lean against Mount Tabor. Not far 
from there, more towards the east, run the hill- 
tops of Gilboa (2,000 feet). On the west side 
of the great plain lies the extensive tree-crested 
range of Carmel, which forms a wall close to the 
sea. The great plain of Jezreel has the shape 
of an irregular triangle, with a length of twenty 
miles from north to south, and a breadth of 615 
miles from east to west, having the mountain 
border of .Carmel on the one side and that of 
Gilboa on the other. This plain divides the land 
into two unequal parts. The northern half, which 
is the smaller, received at a later time the name of 
Galilee. On the south of this plain the ground 
gradually rises, and. at one point attains an eleva- 
tion of 2,000 feet. This district was called Mount 
Ephraim. From Jerusalem, southwards to Hebron, 
the land again ascends to a height of 3,000 feet, 
forming the land of Judah. Here there is a 
gradual descent, and at the old frontier town of 
Beersheba the level does not rise above 700 
feet. At this point begins- the table-land of Mount 
Paran. This district was not included in the 
actual territory of Israel. Both Mount Ephraim 
and Mount Judah have a slope from east to west. 
Between the mountain-side and the Mediterranean 
Sea, from north to south, that is, from Carmel to 
the southern steppe, a plain of increasing breadth 
extends, which is called ** the Plain of Sharon,'' 
or the ** low country " (shefelaJi). In the east the 
mountain declines towards the Jordan. Some peaks 
of this mountain acquired a special significance. 
Such were the two hills by the side of Shechem, 
Gerizim, *'the mountain of blessing" (2,650 feet), 
and Ebal, ** the mountain of the curse " (2,700 feet); 
Bethel, in the east (2,400 feet); Mizpeh^ some 
hours' journey from the subsequent capital ; Mount 
Zion (2j6io feet) ; and the Mount of Olives (2,700 


feet). This peculiar and greatly varied configura- 
tion of the land had its effect not only upon the 
productions of the soil, but also upon the character 
of the people. From north to souA, Palestine is 
divided into three belts. The broad mountainous 
tract occupies the centre ; the low land {shefelali) 
extends from the west to the sea, and the meadows 
ikikkar, arabotJi) from the east to the Jordan. In 
the lowland the climate is mild ; in the mountains, 
during the rainy season it is severe, but temperate 
in the summer. In the district of the Jordan the 
heat continues during the greater part of the 

The land has no rivers which retain their waters 
throughout the year, with the exception of the 
Jordan ; and even this river, owing to its precipitous 
course, is not navigable. The Jordan rises from 
three sources in the slopes of Hermon. At first it 
runs sluggishly, and before entering the Lake of 
Merom it divides into small streams. On emerging 
from the lake, its waters are united in a narrow 
basalt bed, and flow into the Lake of Galilee. On 
issuing from the lake, the Jordan widens, rushes 
over rocks, and, after forming many rapids in its 
swift course, empties itself and disappears in the 
Dead Sea. During spring-time, when the melting 
snow of Hermon swells the waters, this river fer- 
tilises the adjoining low-lying plains, especially 
those on its eastern bank. 

The other streams, including the Jarmuk and 
Jabbok, become dry in the hot summer season. 
Such winter streams [nechalini), nevertheless, en- 
hance the productiveness of the district through 
which they flow, and the cultivated lands are 
situated on the banks of these intermittent streams. 
The increase of vegetation is also favoured by the 
small springs which flow down the hills without 
being collected into rivulets. The districts devoid 
of springs are supplied with drinking-water by 


the rain, which is gathered in cisterns excavated in 
the rocks. 

The greater portion of Palestine is blessed with 
an abundant }f eld of produce. This is due to the 
nature of the soil, and to the copious drainage from 
the highlands of Lebanon, Hermon (Anti-Lebanon), 
with their spurs, as well as to the rain which falls twice 
a year. The land flowed ** with milk and honey," 
and has retained this characteristic even to the 
present day, wherever the industr)^ of man is active. 
It is decidedly a beautiful land '' of brooks, of water, 
of fountains and depths which spring out of valleys 
and hills. A land of wheat and barley, and vines 
and fig-trees, and pomegranates ; a land of olive- 
oil and honey ; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread 
without scarceness ; thou shalt not want anything 
in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of 
whose hills thou mayest dig brass." ^ The plains are 
especially fruitful, and yield to the laborious culti- 
vator two crops in the year. The land lying to 
the north of the plain of Jezreel is likewise fruitful. 
In olden times it had such an abundance of olive 
trees as to give rise to the saying that the husband- 
man *^ dips his foot in oil." 

The central district to the south of the great 
plain, which belonged to Ephraim and Manasseh, 
rewarded its toilers with rich harvests. On all sides 
springs gush forth from the rocky fissures ; and as 
their waters gather together, they attain sufficient 
force to drive the mills, besides supplying the soil 
with proper moisture. The land of the sons of 
Joseph was blessed, 

" With the fruit of the heavens above, 
And of the deep that coucheth beneath ; 
And with precious fruit brought forth by the sun, 
And with the precious things put forth by the moon." " 

The hill-sides were adorned by blooming gardens, 

' Deut. viii. 7-9. ^ Dcut. xxxiii. 13, 14. 


and by vineyards exuberantly laden with grapes. 
The mountains, overshadowed by forests of tere- 
binths, oaks and yew trees, favoured the fertility of 
the valleys. 

In favourable situations the palm-tree produced a 
superabundance of sweet fruit, the juicy contents 
of which sometimes even trickled to the ground. 
There was less fruitfulness in the southern tracts, 
owing to the numerous chalk hills and the small 
number of valleys. But even here good pas- 
tures were found for che herds. Below Hebron 
the extreme south, with its barren rocks and 
strips of sand, presents a dreary aspect. The burn- 
ing wind, in its passage over the desert, dries the 
atmosphere and impoverishes the soil. This dis- 
trict was therefore rightly termed Negeb *' the arid 
land." A few oases, which are found here and 
there, owed their verdure to the presence of water, 
which counteracted the effect of the scorching heat. 
In such humid places the vegetation became ex- 
ceedingly luxuriant under the care of diligent 
cultivators. To the idler this land yielded no pro- 

The climate was made salubrious by the sea- 
breezes and the free currents of mountain air, the 
inhabitants being therefore of a sturdy frame. Here 
were no miasmatic swamps to poison the atmo- 
sphere. Diseases and the ravages of plagues were 
of rare occurrence, and were only caused by in- 
fections imported from elsewhere. Compared with 
the vast dominions of the ancient world, Palestine 
is extremely small. From some lofty central points 
one can survey at a single glance the eastern and 
western frontiers, the waves of the Mediterranean 
and the surface of the Dead Sea, together with the 
Jordan, and the opposite mountains of Gilead. A 
view from Mount Hermon is still more command- 
ing, and presents beautiful and extremely diversified 
landscapes. Throughout the greater part of the 

VOL. I. E 


year the air is so exceedingly pure and transparent 
as to afford no true conception of the distances 
between the eye and the surrounding scenery. 
Even remote objects appear to be placed within 
close proximity. 

Sensitive hearts and reflecting minds might 
well be touched *'by the finger of God" in this 
region where ** Tabor and Hermon praise His 
name.'' Lofty peaks and undulating crests of 
mountains are seen in alternation with verdant 
plains, and their images are reflected upon the 
glittering surface of many waters. These towering 
heights, far from overburdening and depressing the 
mind, draw it away from the din of the noisy world 
and call forth cheering and elevating emotions. 

If the beholder be endowed with the slightest 
spark of poetic sentiment, it is brought into life and 
action by the attractive sight of this panorama. 
From the varied charms of scenic beauty the most 
gifted men of this land drew their inspiration 
for their pensive poetry. Neither the Greeks nor 
the Romans had a conception of this species of poesy, 
which displayed a complete recognition of the 
greatness of the Deity. Nations of a later epoch 
only became acquainted with this poetry, by being 
the disciples of Israel. Whilst the eye surveyed 
from a prominent stand-point the objects encircled 
by an extensive horizon, the soul was impressed 
with the sublime idea of infinitude — an idea which, 
without such aid could only be indirectly and arti- 
ficially conveyed to the intellectual faculties. 
Single-hearted and single-minded men in the midst 
of such surroundings became imbued with a per- 
ception of the grandeur and infinity of the God- 
head, whose guiding power the people of Israel 
acknowledged in the early stages of their history. 
They recognised the existence of the same power 
in the ceaseless agitation of the apparently bound- 
less ocean ; in the periodical return and withdrawal 


of fertilising showers ; in the dew which descended 
from the heights into the valleys ; in the miracles 
which daily happened within a narrow compass, 
but which became disclosed when each upward 
step commanded a wider range of vision. 

" He that formeth the mountains and createth the winds, 
He who turneth the morning into darkness, 
Who treadeth upon the high places of the earth. 
He is the Lord of hosts."* 

At a later period the religious conviction gained 
ground that God's omnipotence is equally mani- 
fested in ordaining the events of history as in 
regulating the succession of physical phenomena ; 
that the same God who lays down the unchanging 
laws of nature, exercises an identical supremacy in 
effecting the rise and fall of nations. This convic- 
tion gained its strength among the people who, 
through their vicissitudes and enlarged percep- 
tive faculties, acquired a full appreciation of what 
is unparalleled and marvellous within the sphere of 
existing things. The land of Gilead had the same 
characteristics that appertained to the region 
on the other side of the Jordan. This district, 
originally owned by the Amorites and by the kings 
of Sihon and Og, was now held by the sons of 
Reuben and Gad. From the summits of this 
territory also immense tracts of land were visible 
at a single view ; but nothing beyond a mere blue 
streak could be seen of the distant ocean. This 
side of the Jordan was, therefore, less endowed 
than the opposite side with poetic suggestiveness. 
The land of Gilead gave birth to no poet, it 
was the home of only one prophet, and his dis- 
position was marked by a fierceness which accorded 
well with the rude and rough character of the terri- 
tory in which he was born. 

The Jordan formed both a geographical and an 

*^' Amos iv. 13. 
E 2 


intellectual landmark. At the time of Israel's con- 
quests, Canaan was already dotted with cities and 
fortified places in which the invaders found some 
rudiments of civic culture. Gilead, on the other 
hand, contained but few towns, and these lay far 
apart from each other. | 

The territories to the west of the Jordan had only | 
partially been subjected and allotted. Large and I 
important tracts of land were still in possession of | 
the original inhabitants, but it can no longer be I 
determined whether it was through the remissness i 
of Joshua that the land of Canaan was not com- ^ 
pletely conquered. In his advancing years Joshua '• 
did not display such vigour of action as was shown ; 
by his teacher, Moses. Gradually he appears to 
have lost the energy that is necessary in a com- | 
mander. His followers of the tribes of Ephraim i 
and Manasseh had already obtained the most pro- i 
ductive part of the land ; they were now resting on : 
their laurels, and damped the warlike impetus of j 
their brethren. The excitements of the early war- \ 
fare having subsided, each of the tribes and their j 
sub-sections was only concerned with its individual ; 
affairs. This isolation prevented the several tribes ; 
from consolidating their forces against the original ; 
inhabitants of Canaan. ; 

The Canaanites had before the invasion by the > 
Israelites already been in possession of sacrificial \ 
altars, and of places for pilgrimage which were ; 
superintended by ignorant custodians. The high ^ 
mountains, bordered by pleasant valleys, were : 
already invested with sacred attributes. Mount ; 
Carmel had long been looked upon as a holy j 
spot whence the heathen priests announced their \ 
oracles. Mount Tabor was likewise regarded as i 
holy. At the foot of Hermon, in a fine fruitful ' 
valley, there stood a sanctuary dedicated to Baal 1 
Gad or Baal Hermon. After the conquest these ^ 
shrines were probably in the first instance only \ 


visited by those strangers v/ho had cast their lot with 
the Israelites ; but their example was soon followed 
by the ignorant portion of their Hebrew com- 
panions. In the interior of the country where the 
people could not discriminate between paganism 
and the divine law of Israel, they adhered to the 
Egyptian superstitions, and were prone to join in 
the sacrificial rites of the pagan idolaters. The 
north, beyond Mount Tabor, likewise contained 
groups of the Canaanite population. The Danites, 
whose neglected treatment has already been noticed, 
were stationed in the centre of the Amorites. Their 
tenure of land was insignificant in extent. The tribes 
of Judah and Simeon were completely cut off from 
the other tribes. They were placed among pagans, 
whose occupations were divided between those of 
the shepherd and the freebooter. The Jebusites 
formed a barrier between the two southern tribes 
and their northern brethren. This division between 
the tribes was only removed after the conquest of 
Jebus (the city subsequently named Jerusalem). If 
Joshua in his declining years beheld with satisfac- 
tion the realisation of the Patriarchal promises, this 
satisfaction was not without its alloy. As in the 
lives of individuals, so in the lives of nations, the 
practical turn of events is liable to disappoint all 
anticipations. It is true the land of Canaan now 
belonged to the Israelites ; but their conquests were 
of a precarious nature, and could again be wrested 
from them by a combined attack on the part of the 
dispossessed natives. The closing days of Joshua's 
life were therefore troubled by the consideration of 
this dangerous contingency, and by the fact that he 
had no successor whom the several tribes, especially 
the tribe of Ephraim, might be willing to follow. His 
death left the people in a state of utter bereavement, 
and they did not seem able to fathom the depth of 
the national loss. No such grief took hold of them 
as was evinced at the death of their first leader. 


Yet there remained one ideal which Joshua be- \ 
queathed to the people — the prospect and the \ 
expectation that at some future time the entire 
land would become their undivided property. , 
Hopes to which a people cling persistently carry 
within themselves the chances of fulfilment. Severe I 
trials continued, however, to await them before the i 
ideal of an undivided possession of Canaan could j 
be fully accomplished. | 



The Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Philistines, Idumasans — Their Customs 
and Mythology — The Moabites and Ammonites — Intercourse of 
the Israelites with their Neighbours and Adoption of their Man- 
ners — Disintegration of the Tribes — Consequent Weakness — 
Temporary Deliverers. 

The sons of Israel, who had already been se- 
verely tried in Egypt, seemed destined to under- 
go trials still more severe. Their new scene of 
activity was surrounded by various nations, and 
they could only have escaped the influences of their 
surroundings either by destroying the homes of 
the bordering populations, or by being endowed 
with the power of resisting every temptation. 
The neighbouring Phoenicians, Canaanites, Ara- 
maeans, Philistines, Idumseans, Moabites, Ammon- 
ites, Amalekites, Arabs, and half-castes of Arabs, 
had each their own peculiar customs, manners, 
and religious observances. The tribes came into 
more or less close contact with their neighbours, 
and were soon dominated by the same law of 
attraction and assimilation, which is felt even in 
more cultured spheres. Hence arose the strange 
phenomenon during a prolonged period of Israel's 
history, that the nation forfeited every species of 
self-dependence ; and even after regaining it, re- 
lapsed, and repeatedly passed through similar alter- 

These changes eventually gave shape and te- 
nacity to the character of the people. In the 
interim, however, Israel became intimately united 
with the Phoenicians ; the northern tribes of Asher, 


Zebulon and Issachar stood in especially close con- 
nection with them. This people, particularly in 
Sidon, had already attained a high degree of 
culture when the Israelites entered Canaan. But 
from an ethical and a religious point of yiew they 
were as backward as the most uncultured races 
of men, though in this regard they were on a 
higher level than the Egyptians. 

The Canaanites worshipped the male and female 
divinities, Baal and Astarte, who in some cities were 
designated by the names of Adonis and Baaltis. 
Baal was intended to be a personification of the 
sun, and Astarte of the moon ; they did not, how- 
ever, figure as luminous beings within the celestial 
space, but as the procreative powers of nature. 
The Canaanites also worshipped the then known 
seven planets termed Cabiri, t,e. the Mighty; as 
an eighth god they adored Ashmun, the restorer 
of health, who was depicted as a serpent. The 
rites by which men and women dedicated them- 
selves to the male and female deities were of a 
loathsome description. The degraded priestesses 
of the temple were termed *' consecrated women" 

In honour of Astarte half-frantic youths and 
men mutilated themselves, and wore female attire. 
They then wandered about as beggars, collecting 
aid for their sanctuary, or rather for their priests, 
and were called *'holy men" {Kedes/mn). Such 
proceedings formed a main part of the religious 
discipline among the Phoenicians, and their .pro- 
fanities were constantly displayed before the 

The southern tribes, on the other hand, main- 
tained friendly relations with the Philistines. This 
people had emigrated from Caphtor (Cydonia), 
a town in the island of Crete, and their territory 
had three ports — Gaza in the south, Ashdod 
(Azotus) in the north, and Ascalon, midway 


between these two towns. In the interior the 
Philistines occupied the cities of Gath and Ekron. 
This group of five cities (Pentapolis) formed a 
small district, extending as far as the Egyptian 
frontier, and its population acquired much power 
and influence. On this account the Greeks and 
the Egyptians designated the entire country by 
the name of Palestine {i.e., land of the Philistines). 
Most probably the Philistines were seafarers and 
merchants like the Phoenicians. With these occu- 
pations, however, they combined the lust of con- 
quest, whilst the Phoenicians, on the contrary, 
confined themselves to peaceful pursuits. 

The Philistines, having a narrow sea-board, were 
induced to seek territorial extension on the eastern 
side. The religious discipline of this people was 
essentially similar to that of the other Canaanites, 
and agreed, in fact, with that of the different 
nations of antiquity. They reverenced the pro- 
creative power of nature under the name of Dagon. 
This deity was depicted in a form, half human, half 

The Philistines had numerous soothsayers, 
wizards, and cloud-seers (^Meo7ieiiim), who pre- 
dicted future events from various auguries. 

With the Idumseans the Israelites had less inter- 
course. The territory of the former extended from 
Mount Seir to the Gulf of the Red Sea. It is 
thought that at a remote time they navigated this 
sea, and traded with Arabia. Their mountains 
contained metals, including gold. The Idumseans 
had the reputation of being sagacious and prac- 
tical. In early ages they were governed by kings, 
who apparently were elective. On the north side 
of the Idumseans, to the east of the Dead Sea, 
the Moabites and the Ammonites were neighbours 
of the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Their lascivious 
idolatry was also dedicated to Baal of Mount Peor. 
Among the Ammonites, Baal was called Milcom or 


Malcom. Besides this deity the god Chemosh was 
worshipped by these two nations. Amidst such 
surroundings the Israelites could not well preserve 
their own political independence, and much less 
their intellectual identity ; nor could they keep mid- 
way between isolation and social intercourse among 
populations akin to them in language and descent. 
From the first the Israelites had as many antago- 
nists as neighbours. These, it is true, had no con- 
ception that Israel's doctrines tended to effect the 
destruction of their gods, altars, and sacred groves 
— the abolition, in fact, of senseless idolatry. Nor 
were they able to discriminate between their own 
sensuous condition and the lofty, hidden aims of 
the invading Israelites. The old inhabitants simply 
abhorred the new comers, who had entered with 
drawn swords to deprive them of their territories. 
In facing overt or secret enemies the Israelites had 
no choice between resorting to exterminating war- 
fare or making amicable concessions. Warfare on a 
large scale was not even practicable; since Joshua's 
death they had no accredited leader, and no plan 
for concerted action. They certainly did not seem 
to desire more than to live on neighbourly terms 
with the adjoining populations. This temporary 
truce might easily satisfy the Canaanites and Phoe- 
nicians, who were mainly concerned in keeping the 
high roads open for commercial dealings. The 
Idumseans, the Philistines, and the Moabites were 
the only nations who sought to do injury to the 
Israelites. Every recollection of the troubles 
endured in the desert made the Israelites more 
desirous of living in undisturbed tranquillity. For 
this reason they took but a slight interest in the 
affairs of their fellow- tribesmen, and they allowed 
their sons and daughters to intermarry with non- 
Israelites. These alliances were most frequent 
among the border-tribes, who found a strong 
element of security in this intimate union with 


their neighbours, the more so as in the early days of 
their history such intermarriages were not yet placed 
under the ban of interdiction. The tribes in the 
interior — for instance, those of Ephraim, Manasseh 
and Benjamin — were less in favour of inter- 
marriages; least of all did the exclusive Levites 
approve of a union with non-Israelites. From an 
intermarriage with the heathen to a participation 
in their idolatrous rites there was but one step. 

In rural districts the Israelites could easily be led 
to join the pagan rites, as their memories were 
still attached to Egyptian superstitions, and they 
were unable to discriminate between pagan disci- 
pline, and the divine doctrine of Sinai. By degrees 
this idolatrous worship gained ground among the 
majority of the Israelites, who were fascinated by 
the arts and accomplishments of the Phoenicians. 

The Sanctuary in Shiloh, where the sons of 
Aaron, together with the Levites, officiated at sacer- 
dotal rites, was not situated in a sufficiently central 
position for tribes settled at great distances, nor 
was it in high favour among those living within 
an easier reach. The neighbouring tribes were 
displeased with the arrogance and the egotism of 
the sons of Ephraim. In the early stages of 
Israel's history the performance of sacrifices was 
held to be an essential part of divine worship and 
of communion with the Deity. Persons clinging 
to the observance of sacrificial rites either erected 
domestic altars, or connected themselves with a 
temple in their vicinity. This tendency remained 
unchecked, as there was no chief or leader to incul- 
cate a proper adoration of the Godhead. The 
Levites, who were intended to be the teachers of the 
people, had been widely dispersed among the dif- 
ferent tribes, and dwelt chiefly in the smaller 
towns. As they owned no lands, and were gene- 
rally destitute, they exerted no great influence 
upon the people. 


One poor Levite, a grandson of the great Law- 
giver, took priestly service at the shrine of a newly - 
manufactured idol, in order to obtain food and 
raiment. The further spread of such worship was 
favoured among the Israelites by the force of sensu- 
ality, by habit, and by the love of imitation. 

At this time the marvellous occurrences in Egypt 
and in the desert were still vividly remembered by 
the several tribes, and formed a link of fellowship 
among them, notwithstanding the disintegrating 
effect of idolatry. The ancestral history continued 
to be handed down from father to son, and revived 
the sentiment of a common nationality. An indi- 
vidual or an entire family immersed in affliction 
would then ask, ** Where are all His miracles of 
which our fathers told us, saying. Did not the Lord 
bring us up from Egypt ? " * 

The events witnessed on Mount Sinai remained 
engraven upon the hearts of thoughtful men ; nor 
were warning voices wanting to recall the older 
days of divine mercy, and to rebuke the people on 
account of their idolatry. It appears that the 
utterances of reproof came from the Levites. They, 
as custodians of the tables of the covenant, and as 
servants in the Sanctuary of Shiloh, stood up in 
days of national misfortune, and on other occasions, 
to expose the corruption of their people. Some- 
times they might succeed in making a deep 
impression when they described past glories or 
present sorrows ; but the effect of such addresses 
was only evanescent. The people were always pre- 
disposed to fraternise with strangers and to imitate 
their practices. One adverse condition produced 
another. The selfishness of the men of Ephraim 
induced their brother tribes to care only for self- 
preservation. The chances of uniting the Israelites 
under one commander were neglected. This again 

* Judges vi. 13. 


drove the divided tribes to confederacies with the 
pagans, and they became more closely united with 
them through the ties of family and of superstitious 
worship ; hence came internal disunion and national 
degeneracy. The indigenous population of Palestine 
no sooner discovered the influence they were able 
to exercise, than they began to treat the Israelites 
as intruders, who should be humbled, if not crushed 

Sorrowful days befell the Israelites after Joshua 
had closed his eyes. One tribe after another was re- 
duced to servitude. At length, when the sufferings 
of the people became unendurable, public-spirited 
men came to the rescue, and performed deeds of 
remarkable valour. These heroic deliverers were 
commonly known as '* judges" {Shofetini). On 
an emergency they would lead one tribe, or several 
tribes to battle ; but they were incapable of uniting 
the entire people of Israel, or of keeping the col- 
lected tribes under permanent control. It was 
altogether beyond the ability of these deliverers 
to bring order into this national disorganisation, 
or to abolish the abuse of idolatry, and enforce a 
strict observance of religion. They, in fact, shared 
the failings of their age, and had only a faint com- 
prehension of the Sinaitic doctrines. 



Animosity of the Idumaeans — Othniel, a Deliverer — Eglon, King of 
Moab — The Canaanite King, Jabin — Sisera, his General — The 
Prophetess and Poetess Deborah — Barak — Victory near Tabor 
— Early Hebrew Poetry — Sufferings through Nomads — The 
Hero Gideon (Jerubbaal) — Victory in the Plain of Jezreel — Com- 
mencement of Prosperity — Abimelech — Feud with the Shechem- 
ites — Jair the Gileadite — Hostilities of the Amalekites and 
the Philistines — Jephthah — Samson — Zebulunite Judges. 

Othniel, the son of Kenaz, a brother, and at 
the same time son-in-law of Caleb, was the first 
warrior-judge. Having collected a brave band 
of combatants, he advanced against an Idumaean* 
king, and delivered the southern tribes of Judah 
and Simeon. But his enterprise did not bring 
the least advantage to the rest of the tribes, 
and remained almost unknown on the other 
side of Mount Ephraim. The daring act of the 
Benjamite, Ehud the son of Gera, was of greater 
significance. The Israelites being oppressed by 
the Moabites, Ehud did not immediately invite his 
injured companions to make an open attack upon 
the foe. He first sought to put the hostile king, 
Eglon, out of the way. One day he presented him- 
self before the king under the pretext that he was 
the bearer of a gift from his people in token of 
their submission. Being alone with Eglon, he 
thrust into the body of his victim a double-edged 
sword, and fled after having locked the door of the 
audience chamber. He then summoned the men 
of Ephraim and Benjamin, and occupied the fords 
of the Jordan so as to cut off the retreat of the 
Moabites, who had established themselves on the 

* Judges iii. 8 and lo must be read "king of Edo7n" (DHX) 
instead oi Aram (01^). 



west side of that river. The Moabites were then 
totally routed. After this victory the western tribes 
of Israel remained for a long time unmolested by 
the people of Moab. 

From another quarter, the Israelites were 
harassed by the Philistines. Shamgar the son of 
Anath, probably of the tribe of Benjamin, chastised 
the assailants with a weapon extemporised out of an 
ox-goad. Such sporadic acts of bravery, inade- 
quate to improve the situation of the Israelites, 
tended only to aggravate their troubles. Jabin, 
a Canaanite king, joined by some of the neigh- 
bouring rulers, seemed bent upon exterminating 
the Israelites. The high roads became insecure, 
and wayfarers had to seek devious by-ways. At 
that juncture, Israel was without a leader, or a 
man of tried courage. A woman, a poetess and 
prophetess, Deborah the wife of Lapidoth, then 
came forward as ** a mother in Israel." With 
her inspiriting speech she animated the timorous 
people, and changed them from cowards into 
heroes. Urged by Deborah, Barak the son of 
Abinoam, reluctantly undertook to lead the 
Israelites against the enemy ; and, at her bidding, 
the most valiant men in Israel joined the national 
army. Meeting together near Mount Tabor, they 
discomfited the Canaanites who were commanded 
by Jabin's general, the hitherto unvanquished Sisera. 
The power of Jabin was henceforth broken. The 
commander himself had now to flee for his life, and 
was slain by Jael, the wife of Heber, a member of 
the Kenite tribe which maintained an amicable 
alliance with the Israelites. In a hymn known as 
'* The Song of Deborah," the praises were sung 
of this unexpected victory, and of the mercy which 
God had bestowed upon His people. But these hos- 
tilities had not yet reached their end. The restless 
nations of the neighbourhood continued to deal 
heavy blows upon the Israelites, who either were 


too weak or too disunited to resist such attacks. 
The roving Midianites periodically ravaged Pales- 
tine. At each harvest time they would cross the 
Jordan with their irresistible hordes, bringing with 
them their tents, their camels, and their herds. 
They came ** like a flight of locusts," emptied the 
barns, led off the flocks, the herds and the asses, 
and then quitted the impoverished and despoiled 
land. The rich and fertile plain of Jezreel, with 
the adjacent northern and southern territory, was 
especially exposed to these incursions. To save their 
scanty means of subsistence, the owners of the 
land concealed their provisions in caverns and other 
hiding places. The insignificant gleanings of wheat 
had to be threshed in the openings of rocks. In 
their severe trials the tribes prayed unto the God of 
their fathers, and assembled at Shiloh, where they 
were reproved for their sinfulness by ** a man of 
God" — probably a Levite — who reminded them 
that their misfortunes were the consequence of 
their iniquities. Exhortations of this kind seem 
to have made a deep impression upon at least one 
man of note. This man was Jerubbaal, also named 
Gideon, of the tribe of Manasseh. In Ophrah, his 
native place, in a grove consecrated to Baal or to 
Astarte, there was an altar, which Jerubbaal de- 
stroyed, and he then raised another in honour of the 
God of Israel. The men of Ophrah, enraged at this 
sacrilege, were about to stone Jerubbaal, but he 
gathered round him tribesmen of Manasseh, Asher, 
Zebulun and Naphtali, and encamped at Endor to 
the north of Mount Moreh ; there he dismissed the 
timid and faint-hearted, retaining only a picked 
force of 300 warriors. In the dead of night he fell 
upon the sleeping enemy, whom he terrified with 
the shrill blast of horns and the brandishing of 
burning torches, amidst the war-cry, **For God and 
for Gideon." The unprepared Midianites were 
utterly routed, and were forced to retreat across the 

CH. IV. 


Jordan. During many ages ** the day of Midian " 
was remembered among the triumphs which a 
handful of brave Israelites had accomplished. 

Gideon then pursued on the other side of the 
Jordan the two fugitive Midianite kings, Zebah 
and Zalmunna, chastised those Israelites who re- 
fused him and his famishing warriors the needful 
provisions, and inflicted upon the Midianites a 
crushing defeat from which they never recovered. 
The people thus delivered offered to make him their 
king, an honour which he declined, both for himself 
and his descendants. It appears that he made 
Ophrah a centre for pilgrims, to the detriment of 
the less conveniently situated sanctuary of Shiloh. 
This aroused the jealousy of the men of Ephraim, 
who, after the death of the hero, were involved in 
violent conflicts with the men of the tribe of Manas- 
seh. Gideon had, after his great victories, carried 
into the land the rich treasures of the vanquished 
enemies. The towns of Israel became seats of 
wealth and luxury. . Phoenician caravans could 
henceforth safely journey through the land. Cove- 
nants were concluded with the trafficking strangers, 
who were placed under the protection of the tutelar 
Baal-Berith (Baal of the Covenant). The jealous 
men of Ephraim, who sought to foment dissen- 
sion among the seventy sons and grandsons of 
Gideon, found in Abimelech, one of his sons, an 
unscrupulous ally. This Abimelech, being the son of 
a woman of Shechem, was elected by the Shechem- 
ites to be their leader. His first act was to put his 
brothers to death. Only Jotham, the youngest of 
them, escaped. On Mount Gerizim, Jotham pro- 
nounced his trenchant parable of the trees, who, in 
their search of a ruler, met with refusals from the 
fruitful olive, fig, and vine trees. The prickly 
bramble (Atad) was the only one who would 
accept the government ; but he warned the trees 
that if they • refused to acknowledge him as 

VOL. I. F 


ruler, he would send forth a fire to consume all 
the trees of the Lebanon. The parable found its 
application in the subsequent hostilities between 
the men of Shechem and Abimelech, whose cruel- 
ties ended in his death at the hand of his own 

After the fall of Abimelech the cis-Jordanic 
tribes seem to have retrograded, while the men 
of Manasseh or Gilead, on the other side of the 
Jordan, invaded the high land of the Hauran and 
took possession of sixty rock-built cities. This 
district then received the name Havvoth Jair. 
At that time the Israelites suffered a shock from 
two sides, which caused further disintegration 
among them. • On the one hand they were attacked 
by the Ammonites, and on the other by the Philis- 
tines. These attacks distracted them and rendered 
them incapable of resistance. The Ammonites 
appear to have driven the Israelites from their open 
places, after which they attacked the strongholds. 
These incursions were successful against the tribes 
of Ephraim and Judah. 

On the opposite side, the Philistines assailed the 
neighbouring tribes of Israel, and sought to subdue 
them. They first attacked the tribe of Dan ; nor 
did they spare the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. 
Even these disasters did not arouse the tribes to 
make a combined resistance. The trans-Jordanic 
tribes had turned to the Ephraimites for help ; but 
the latter took no part in the contest, either from 
selfishness or because the inhabitants of Shechem 
and other Ephraimite towns had been enfeebled 
by Abimelech. 

In those troubled times there arose two deliverers, 
who drove off the enemy and procured temporary 
relief. Jephthah and Samson appeared as adven- 
turers who maintained order, and brought their 
powers to bear, as much for evil as for good. They 
both alike displayed an extraordinary activity ; 


But while Jephthah was a warrior who conquered his 
enemies by warlike measures, Samson, though en- 
dowed with great strength and daring, appears to 
have overcome his enemies more by stratagems 
and unexpected attacks. 

Jephthah, the Gileadite, of the tribe of Manasseh, 
having been banished by his tribesmen, began to 
lead the life of a highwayman. Daring asso- 
ciates, who thought little of law and order, joined 
him and appointed him their leader. When attacked 
by the Ammonites, the men of Gilead remem- 
bered their outlawed kinsman, whose bold deeds 
had come to their knowledge. Some of the elders 
of his tribe went to him and urged him to aid 
them with his troops, and help them to expel 
the enemy from their territories. Full of proud 
indignation Jephthah rebuked them with the 
words, "You hated me, and drove me from my 
father's house ; wherefore do you come to me now 
when it goes ill with you ? '' * The Gileadite elders, 
however, entreated him more urgently, and pro- 
mised, if he should vanquish the enemy, that they 
v/ould recognise him as chief in Gilead. Upon this 
Jephthah determined to return with them. He then 
sent a formal message to the Ammonites, demand- 
ing that they should desist from their incursions 
into the territory of the Israelites; and when they 
refused on the pretext of ancient rights, he tra- 
versed the districts of Gilead and Manasseh in order 
to enlist warriors. Jephthah knew well how to 
gather many brave youths round him, and with these 
he proceeded against the Ammonites, defeated 
them, and captured twenty of their cities. After 
Jephthah had gained these decisive victories the 
Ephraimites began a quarrel with him; and as 
previously, in the case of the heroic Gideon, they 
were displeased that he had obtained victories 
without their aid. 

* Judges xi. 7. 
F 2 


This led to a civil war, for Jephthah was" not so 
submissive to the proud Ephraimites as the judge of 
Ophrah had been. The men of Ephraim crossed the 
Jordan, near the town of Zaphon, and assumed 
a warlike attitude; but Jephthah punished them 
for their presumption, defeated them, and blocked 
their road of retreat on the banks of the Jordan. 
Jephthah might have strengthened the tribes beyond 
the Jordan, but his rule only lasted six years, and 
he left no son to succeed him. He had only one 
daughter, and of her a deeply moving story has 
been preserved, which describes how she became 
the victim of her father's rash vow. 

Whilst the hero of Gilead was subduing the 
Ammonites by force of arms, Samson was fighting 
the Philistines, who claimed, from the tribe to 
which Samson belonged, the coast-line of Joppa, 
formerly a part of their possessions. The tribe of 
Dan smarted under their yoke, but had not the 
power to effect a change. Samson was not sup- 
ported in his enterprises by the various tribes as 
Jephthah had been. They greatly feared the Philis- 
tines; and so Samson was compelled to have re- 
course to stratagems, and could only harm the 
enemy by unexpected onslaughts. This mode of 
warfare was censured in the words, ** Dan shall 
judge his people like one of the tribes of Israel. 
Dan shall be as a serpent by the way, and as an 
adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, 
so that his rider shall fall backwards." * 

Samson is supposed to have fought during twenty 
years for Israel, without, however, improving the 
state of affairs. Long after his death the Philis- 
tines kept the upper hand over the tribes of Dan 
and Benjamin, and also over Judah and Ephraim. 
The rule of the Philistines pressed with increasing 
weight upon Israel. After Samson there arose suc- 
cessively three other deliverers, two in the tribe of 

♦ Genesis xlix. i6, 17. 


Zebulun, and one in the tribe of Ephraim ; but their 
deeds were of so insignificant a character that they 
have not been deemed worthy of mention. Of the 
two hero-JLidges in Zebulun, the names and the 
territory or town in which they were buried have 
alone been preserved : Ibzan, of Bethlehem in 
Zebulun, and Elon, of the town of Aijalon. Also 
of the Ephraimite judge, Abdon, son of Hillel, 
the Pirathonite, little more is known. It is not 
even stated against what enemies they waged 
war; but the fact that the men of Zebulun, who 
at first lived far awav from the sea, afterwards 
removed their dwelling-places to the shore, leads 
us to suppose that they supplanted the Canaanite 




Eli and Samuel. t 


Importance of the Judges in Command— Public Feeling— Sanctuary . 
in Shiloh— Eli and his Sons— Defeat by the Philistines— Capture 

of the Ark— Destruction of Shiloh and the Sanctuary— Flight of ^ 

the Aaronites and Levites— Death of Eli— The Ark in Philistia £ 
and in Kirjath Jearim — Prophecy re-awakened — Samuel in , 

. Ramah — The Order of Prophets or Singers — Popular revulsion i 

— The tribe of J udah— Repeated attacks of the Philistines— Meet- j 

ing at Mizpah— Samuel's activity— Nob as a place of Worship— I 

Increase in power of the Philistines and Ammonites — Tribes j 
desire to have a King— Samuel's course of action. 

iioo? — 1067 B.C. " 

The twelve or thirteen warrior-judges had been in- 
capable of keeping off the hostile neighbours of 
Israel for any length of time, much less had they en- | 
sured the permanent safety of the country. Even | 
the more celebrated Barak, with all his enthusiasm, '^ 
and Gideon and Jephthah with their warlike cou- J 
rage, could only succeed in uniting a few of the | 
tribes, but were unable to secure or restore the union -i 
of the entire people. The warrior- judges were, in ■ 
fact, only of importance so long as they repulsed ! 
the enemy, averted danger, and ensured safety in ] 
daily life. They wielded no real power, not even \ 
over the tribes to which their prowess brought ■ 
help and freedom ; nor did they possess any ' 
rights by which they could enforce obedience, j 
The isolation and division amongst the several ] 
tribes continued, in spite of temporary victories ;/y 
the actual weakness of the country increasec M 
rather than diminished. Samson's '*serpent-lik ' ; 
attacks and adder's bites" did not deter the Phili 
tines from considering the tribes within reach j 
their subjects, or more correctly speaking as tr ' ■ 
slaves, nor did it prevent them from ill -treat) 


the Israelites. Jephthah's victories over the Am- 
monites did not cause the enemy to relinquish their 
claims over the eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and 

After the deaths of Jephthah and Samson the 
state of affairs became still more dismal. It 
was, however, precisely this sense of extreme 
weakness which led to a gradual recovery of 
strength. Several tribal leaders must have come 
to the conclusion that this connection with neigh- 
bouring populations, and the adoption of idola- 
trous customs, had only brought the people 
to the verge of ruin. The remembrance of the 
God of their fathers no doubt once more revived 
in their hearts and awakened their sleeping con- 
sciences to a sense of duty. The men who had 
been thus aroused called to mind the Sanctuary 
dedicated to their God at Shiloh, and they repaired 

Towards the close of the judges' period, Shiloh 
once more became a general rallying-point. Here 
the Levites, the guardians of the Law, still resided, 
and they used their opportunities to urge, at the 
meetings held in times of distress, that a denial of 
Israel's God and the worship of Baal had brought 
all this misery upon the people. There also lived 
in Shiloh a priest who was worthy of his ancestors 
Aaron and Phineas. He was the first Aaronite, 
after a considerable time, whose name has been 
recorded by posterity. He was simply called Eli, 
without the addition of his father's name, and 
the only title of honour he bore was that he was 
a priest at Shiloh. Eli is described as a venerable 
old man, on whose lips were words of gentleness, 
and who was incapable of giving utterance to 
severe censure, even to his unworthy sons. 

This aged man could not fail to exercise a 
beneficial influence, and win warm adherents to the 
Law which he represented, if only by the example 


of his moral worth and by the holy life he led. 
When Shiloh was visited in ever-increasing num- 
bers by desponding worshippers from the tribes of 
Ephraim and Benjamin, as also from the tribes on 
the trans-Jordanic side, some were murmuring at 
the sufferings imposed upon them, and others com- 
plaining of the hard treatment they endured at the 
hands of the Ammonites ; but Eli would exhort them 
to rely on the ever ready help of the God of Israel 
and to give up the worship of strange gods. 

By such exhortations he might have brought 
about a better state of mind among his hearers, if 
the respect felt for him had been likewise enjoyed 
by his two sons, Hophni and Phineas. They, how- 
ever, did not walk in the ways of their father ; and 
when the people and Eli were overtaken by severe 
misfortunes, these were supposed to be a punish- 
ment of heaven for the sins of Eli's sons, and for 
the weak indulgence displayed by the High Priest. 

The Philistines still held sway over the tribes 
in their vicinity, and made repeated attacks 
and raids on Israel's lands. The tribes attacked 
became so far skilled in warfare that they 
no longer sought to oppose the enemy in irre- 
gular skirmishes, but met them in open battle. 
The Israelites encamped on the hill Eben- 
ha-Ezer, and the Philistines in the plain near 
Aphek. As the latter possessed iron war-chariots 
they proved superior to the Israelites, of whom 
four thousand are supposed to have fallen in battle. 
The Israelite warriors, however, did not take to 
flight, but kept to their posts. 

In accordance with the counsel of the elders, the 
Ark of the Covenant was brought from Shiloh, it 
being believed that its presence would ensure 
victory. Eli's sons were appointed to escort it. 
Nevertheless, the second battle was even more 
disastrous than the first. The Israelite troops 
fled in utter confusion ; the Ark of the Covenant 


was captured by the Philistines, and Hophni and 
Phineas, who attended it, were killed. The Philis- 
tines pursued the flying troops and spread terror 
in every direction. Breathless with fear, a mes- 
senger of evil tidings arrived in Shiloh, and brought 
the sad ne^ys to the anxious people and to the 
high priest Eli who was sitting at the gate. 

The news that the Ark of the Covenant had been 
captured affected the aged priest even more than the 
death of his sons ; he dropped down dead from his 
seat. It now seemed that all glory had departed 
from the house of Israel. The victorious Philis- 
tines, no longer content to make foraging expe- 
ditions through the country, forced their way 
from west to east until they reached the district of 
Shiloh. They destroyed that town, together with 
the Tabernacle which had been a witness to the 
blissful days of Moses. A later poet describes 
this time of trial with a heavy heart.* 

The strength and courage of the people were 
entirely overcome by this defeat. Those tribes who 
until now had been foremost in every encounter, 
were crushed. The tribe of Ephraim suffered — 
though not undeservedly, most severely — by the 
overthrow of the Sanctuary, which in Eli's time 
had been recognised as a place for popular meet- 
ings. Every chance of union, especially amongst 
the northern tribes, seemed to be cut off, although 
they had not been concerned in the disastrous 

The Philistines were impressed with the idea that 
by capturing the Ark of the Covenant — which 
they supposed to be the safeguard of the Israelites, 
— and by destroying the Sanctuary, they had 
vanquished the Israelite people ; but they were 
painfully undeceived. As soon as they had carried 
off the Ark of the Covenant to the neighbouring 

*See Psalm Ixxviii. 60-64; Jeremiah vii. 12. 


town of Ashdod, the country was visited by various 
plagues. In their terror, the Philistine princes 
determined to follow the advice of their priests 
and magicians, and send back the Ark, accom- 
panied by expiatory offerings, after it had been in 
their possession for seven months. It was accord- 
ingly sent over the boundaries and taken to the 
town of '^ Kirjath Jearim " (Forest Town) situated 
on a hill, where it was guarded by the Levites of 
the district; but it was so little missed by the 
people that decades passed before they even re- 
membered their loss. In the eyes of the untutored 
Israelites neither the contents nor the great age of 
the tablets of the Law preserved in the Ark 
were of great importance. Meanwhile these 
misfortunes — the destruction and loss of the 
Sanctuary at Shiloh — had aroused a desire for a 
better state of things. Those who were not 
utterly indifferent could perceive that the true 
cause of the evil lay in the religious and poli- 
tical dissensions. The Levites who had escaped 
during the destruction of Shiloh and had settled 
in other towns, probably prepared the public 
mind for a return to the belief in God. Per- 
haps also the return of the Ark of the Covenant 
from the land of the Philistines exercised an 
animating influence and raised hopes of better 
days. The longing for the God of Israel became 
daily more widely diffused, and the want of a 
steadfast and energetic leader was keenly felt, — 
a leader who would bring the misguided people 
into the right path, and raise up those who were 
bowed down with sorrow. And just at the right 
moment a man appeared who brought about a 
crisis in Israel's history. 

Samuel, the son of Elkanah, was the man who 
reunited the long-sundered bonds of communal 
life amongst the Israelites, and thereby averted the 
threatening decay and internal corruption. His 

CH. V. SAMUEL. 75 

greatness is illustrated by the circumstance that he 
was not only regarded second to Moses in point of 
years, but also in prophetic importance. 

Samuel was an elevated character. He displayed 
the same unbending conscientiousness towards him- 
self as towards others. Living amidst the people, 
coming into daily contact with them, he surpassed 
the men of his time in love of God, purity of 
heart, and unselfishness. In addition to these 
qualities he was distinguished by the gift of pro- 
phecy. His spiritual eye pierced the clouds which 
hid the future. He proclaimed his prophetic visions, 
and they came to pass. Samuel was descended from 
one of the most distinguished Levitical families, 
from the same Korah who had incited the rebellion 
against Moses in days of old. Samuel inherited 
intensity of feeling from his mother Hannah, whose 
fervent though inaudible prayer has formed an 
example for all ages. At a tender age he was 
placed by his mother as one of the attendant Le- 
vites in the Sanctuary at Shiloh. He had daily to 
open its gates ; he took part in the sacrificial ser- 
vice, and he passed his nights within the precincts 
of the tabernacle. 

At an early age the gift of prophecy, unknown to 
himself, was awakened within him. Whilst wrapped 
in deep sleep he heard himself called from the inner 
recess of the Sanctuary when the Ark of the Cove- 
nant was still placed there. This was Samuel's 
first vision, and happened previous to the defeat 
of the Israelites by the Philistines, the capture of 
the Ark of the Covenant, the death of Eli and his 
two sons, and the destruction of the Sanctuary. 
Samuel's services ceased with the last-named event, 
and he returned to his father's house at Ramah in 
deep affliction. 

The misfortunes which had befallen his people, 
and especially the ruin of Shiloh, made an over- 
powering impression on Samuel, whose youthful 


mind aspired to the highest duties of man. In the 
Levitical circle in which he had grown up, it was 
a fixed belief that the trials undergone by the people 
resulted from their denial of the God of Israel. To 
have no Sanctuary was considered equivalent to 
being without God. 

The sacred writings enshrined in the Ark enjoined 
righteousness, justice, mercy, and the equality of 
all Israelites without distinction of class, as com- 
manded by God ; but little or nothing was said of 
sacrifices. Samuel, who by many centuries was 
nearer to the rise of the Israelites than were the 
later prophets, was like them convinced of the fact 
that God had not ordained the deliverance of His 
people solely in order that they might sacrifice to 
Him alone, but rather that they might carry His laws 
into effect. The contents of these records of the Law 
embodied the will of God which the Israelites were 
to follow with implicit obedience. This Law was 
vivified in Samuel ; and he was the medium by which 
it became indelibly impressed on the people ; to 
give effect to its teaching was the task of SamueFs 

The fact of having no Sanctuary was, as has 
been shown, deemed equivalent to being aban- 
doned by God. Gradually, however, Samuel seems 
to have taken up a different train of thought — No 
Sanctuary, no burnt offerings. " Is the sacrifice 
absolutely necessary for a pure worship of God 
and for a holy life in His ways?" This thought 
became matured within him ; and later, on a fitting 
occasion, he preached on this theme thus. The 
sacrifices are of little importance ; the fat of rams 
cannot win God's approbation ; in what, then, should 
service of God consist? ** In a strict obedience to 
all that He has commanded.'' During his sojourn 
in Shiloh Samuel had not only made himself ac- 
quainted with the contents of the stone tablets 
which were kept in the Ark of the Sanctuary, but 


he became also versed in the books of the Laws 
emanating from Moses, and he was entirely filled with 
their spirit. The living word was the means which 
he employed to attain his end, for he was endowed 
with impressive eloquence. From time to time he 
had prophetic dreams and visions. These revealed 
to him that his convictions were not the mere 
suggestions of his own mind or heart, but were 
sanctioned or inspired by a higher Being. The pro- 
phetic inspirations consisted of teachings or com- 
mands ; they were combined with an unveiling of 
the near future, and bore the character of revela- 
tions. Animated by his prophetic visions, Samuel 
communicated them to his hearers, probably at 
his native place, Ramah, where his reputation had 
preceded him. These communications, which fore- 
shadowed extraordinary events beyond the limits 
of common foresight, he seems to have expressed 
in orations and in rhythmic utterances abounding 
in poetic metaphors and similes. 

Whilst in Shiloh, he had been repeatedly vouch- 
safed prophetic visions, and these had been con- 
firmed. It soon went forth in the environs of Ramah 
and in ever-increasing circles, that a prophet had 
arisen in Israel, and that the spirit of God, which 
had rested on Moses and had led him to deliver 
the children of Israel from Egypt, had now de- 
scended on the son of Elkanah. In the interval, 
during a long succession of centuries, no prophet, 
in the full sense of the word, had arisen. The 
fact that God had raised up a second Moses en- 
couraged the hope that better times were at hand. 
Samuel's first endeavour was to reclaim the nation 
from the idolatrous worship of Baal and Astarte, 
and from a superstitious belief in the oracular 
powers of the Teraphim. 

The desire of a portion of the people to abandon 
their evil ways materially assisted Samuel in his 
efforts. His irresistible eloquence was concentrated 


in the one theme that the g-ods of the heathen were 
nonentities who could neither help nor save. He 
declared that it was a folly and a sin to consult the 
lying oracles and the jugglery of the soothsayers ; 
and that God would never desert the nation whom 
He had chosen. These words found a powerful 
response in the hearts of those who heard them. 
Samuel did not wait for the people to come to 
him in order that he might address them, but he 
went forth to them. He travelled throuo^h the whole 
land, appointed public meetings, and announced 
to the mxultltudes the lessons revealed in him by 
the spirit of God ; and the people, stirred by his 
prophetic utterances, and roused from the lethargy 
into which they had been plunged ever since their 
misfortunes had commenced, now began to revive. 
The right man had come, whose words could be 
followed in days of care and trouble. The eyes of 
the nation naturally turned towards him. 

Had Samuel stood alone, he would scarcely have 
been enabled to effect so desirable a transforma- 
tion. But he had a number of assistants on whom 
he could rely. The Levites, whose home was in 
Shiloh, had fled when the town and the Sanctuary 
were destroyed. They had been accustomed to 
surround the altar and to serve in the Sanctuary. 
They knew no other occupation. What should 
they do now in their dispersion ? Another place 
of worship had not yet been founded to which 
they might have turned. Several Levites there- 
fore joined Samuel. His greatness had impressed 
them when he lived in Shiloh, and he now employed 
them to execute his plans. Gradually their numbers 
increased until they formed a band of associates 
{C/iebel) or Levitical guild {Ke/nlak), These dis- 
ciples of prophecy, headed by Samuel, contributed 
materially to the change of views and manners 
among the people. 

Another circumstance served at that time to 


raise the nation from its apathy. During the 
entire period of the Judges' rule the men of Judah 
had not taken the slightest share in public events. 
Removed far away in their caves and deserts, 
they seemed to have no part in the life of the 
other tribes. They called themselves by the name 
of Jacob. Utterly secluded, they led a separate 
existence, untouched by the sorrows and joys, 
the battles and conquests, of the tribes living on 
both sides of the Jordan. The Jebusites, who 
possessed the district between the mountains of 
Ephraim and Judah, formed a barrier between 
these tribes and the Israelites dwelling in the north. 

It was only the repeated incursions of the Philis- 
tines on Israel's territory which seem to have 
aroused the tribe of Judah, and forced it out of its 
retirement. It was probably to strengthen them- 
selves against the attacks of their enemy, who 
sought to lay the yoke of serfdom on their necks, 
that the men of Judah stretched out a helping hand 
to the neighbouring tribes. Whatever circumstance 
may have influenced them, it is certain that in 
Samuel's days, the tribe of Judah with its depen- 
dency, the tribe of Simeon, took part in the com- 
mon cause. Jacob and Israel, divided for many 
centuries since the first entry into Canaan, were 
now at length united. It was, without doubt, 
Samuel who brought about this union. 

Judah' s or Jacob's entry into history formed a 
new, more vigorous, and somewhat regenerating 
element. The tribe of Judah had founded but 
few towns, and had not developed town life in the 
territories it had acquired. The only city worthy 
of note was Hebron ; the other places were villages 
for cattle-breeders. The refinement and the de- 
pravity resulting from the influence of the Philistines 
had remained unknown to the tribes of Judah and 
Simeon. The worship of Baal and Astarte, with 
its coarse and sensual rites, had found no followers 


among them. They remained, for the most part, 
what they were on their entry into the land — simple 
shepherds, loving peace and upholding their liberty, 
without any desire for warlike fame or for mak- 
ing new conquests. The simple customs of patri- 
archal life seem to have lasted longer in Judah than 
elsewhere. This accession of strength and religious 
activity could certainly not have been rendered pos- 
sible without Samuel's commanding and energetic 
intervention. The son of Elkanah, though no 
warrior, was looked upon as a firm supporter on 
whom both houses could lean. For many years 
Samuel, assisted by the prophetic order of Levites, 
pursued his active course with zeal and energy; 
the people regarded him as a ruler, and he, in fact, 
by his inspired zeal, led them on to conquest. A 
victory gained near Eben-ha-Ezer, where, many 
years before, the Philistines had overcome the 
Israelite troops and had carried off much booty, 
now produced a mighty effect — it revived the cou- 
rage of the Israelites and humbled the Philistines. 

During the next decade the people once more 
enjoyed the comforts of peace, and Samuel took 
measures that prosperity should not efface the 
good results of previous misfortunes. It was his 
earnest endeavour to consolidate the union be- 
tween the tribes, which was the true foundation 
of their strength. Year after year he called to- 
gether the elders of the people, explained their 
duties to them, and reminded them of the evil days 
which had befallen the Israelites through their god- 
lessness, their intermarriages with strange nations, 
and their excesses of idolatry ; he also warned 
them against a return to these errors. Such 
assemblies Samuel held by turns in the three 
towns which came into notice after the destruc- 
tion of Shiloh — namely, in Bethel, in Gilgal, and 
in Mizpah, where prayers for victory over the 
Philistines had been offered up in the former 


campaign. At Ramah, the place of his residence, 
frequent meetings of the various tribes took place ; 
and here the elders sought his advice in all im- 
portant matters. At divine services Samuel not 
only caused sacrifices to be offered up, but he em- 
ployed the aid of the Levites to play on stringed 
instruments in order to arouse the devout feelings 
of the people. 

Through him a new element was introduced into 
the divine service of the Israelites — viz., songs of 
praise. Samuel, the ancestor of the celebrated 
psalmists, the sons of Korah, was the first who 
composed songs of praise for divine service. His 
grandson, Heman, was considered the chief 
psalmist and musician, and ranked in fame next 
to Asaph and Jeduthun, who flourished in the sub- 
sequent generation. The charms of poetry and 
harmony were by Samuel brought to bear upon 
the service of religion, and they left a lasting and 
ennobling impression on the minds of the people. 
The employment of choirs of Levites and singers 
rendered the sacrificial rite of minor importance. 

The priests, the sons of Aaron, took up a less 
respected position, and were to a certain extent 
neglected by Samuel. Achitub, a grandson of Eli, 
had saved himself after the destruction of Shiloh by 
taking refuge in the small town of Nob, near Jeru- 
salem. He had carried away with him the high 
priests' garments ; and various members of the 
house of Aaron, having assembled there, Nob be- 
came a sacerdotal town. Here Achitub appears to 
have erected an altar, and also a tabernacle on the 
model of the one which had been destroyed in 
Shiloh. He even appears to have made an Ark 
of the Covenant in Nob, instead of the one carried 
off by the Philistines. The Israelites apparently 
disregarded the fact that the new ark was wanting 
in the essential contents, the stone tablets of the 


Notwithstanding the eventful changes effected 
by Samuel through his great gifts and untiring 
energy, the condition of the people was anything 
but satisfactory. He had given especial attention 
to the central and southern districts, and had ap- 
pointed his two sons, Joel and Abijah, to act as 
judges — the one in Beer-sheba, the other in Bethel 
— but the north was left unrepresented. 

With increasing years Samuel could no longer 
display the same activity as in his youth and riper 
manhood. His sons were disliked, being accused 
of misusing their power and of accepting bribes. 
There were no men of energy amongst Samuel's 
followers, and thus the ties which held the people 
together gradually slackened. In addition it must 
be noted that just at this period the country of 
Israel's greatest enemies was transformed into 
a kingdom. The Philistines had either of their 
own free will chosen a king, or had been forced to 
do so by one of the rulers of their five cities. The 
town of Gath became the capital. The ambition 
of the Philistine king now turned in the direction 
of fresh conquests ; he seems to have made suc- 
cessful attacks on the Phoenicians, and to have 
laid waste the town of Sidon. In consequence of 
their defeat the Sidonians took refuge in their 
ships, and on a rock which projected far out to 
sea they built a town which they called Zor Tyre, 
the city of the rock. Meanwhile the Philistines 
became possessors of the entire territory between 
Gaza and Sidon, and it seemed easy to them, 
with their increased power, to subjugate Israel ; 
hence a fierce warfare ensued between them and 
the Israelites. The Ammonites also, who had been 
humiliated by Jephthah, now rose again under 
their warlike king Nahash, and began to invade the 
possessions of the tribes of Gad and half-Manasseh. 
Powerless to defend themselves, these tribes sent 
messengers to Samuel, entreating him to supply 


efficient aid. They at the same time expressed a 
wish which, though entertained by the entire people, 
was deeply painful to the prophet. They demanded 
that a king should be placed at the head of the 
Israelite community, who could compel the various 
tribes to unite in joint action, and might lead 
them to battle and to victory. There was now to 
be a king in Israel. Samuel was amazed when he 
heard these demands. A whole people was to be 
dependent on the whims or the will of a single 
individual ! Equality of all members of the people 
before God and the law, the entire independence 
of each family group under their patriarchal head, 
had become so identified with their mode of life, 
that any change in their condition seemed incom- 
prehensible and fraught with the heaviest mis- 

It was now necessary to give a new direction to 
the destinies of the people. Samuel's clear intellect 
disapproved of the radical change ; yet his inherent 
prophetic gift compelled him to accede. The 
kingdom of Israel was brought forth in pain : it 
was not the offspring of affection. It therefore did 
not take its natural place in the system of Israel's 
organisation, but was considered by more discern- 
ing minds as a disturbing innovation. 

G 2 





Establishment of a Kingdom — Saul— His Position and Character — J 
His secret Election at ISIizpah— Humiliating Condition of the | 
Nation under the Philistines — Declaration of War — Assemblage I 
in Gilgal — Battle of Michmash — Defeat of the Philistines — ■ 
Severity of Saul— Victory over the Ammonites — Saul's Election j 
as King confirmed — His Court and Attendants — His Officers and I 
Standing Army — Victory over the Amalekites — Disputes i 
between Saul and Samuel — Saul's Attacks on the neighbour- | 
ing People — War with the Gibeonites — Place of Worship in i 
Gibeon — War against the Philistines in the Valley of Tamarinths i 
— Goliath and David — Meeting of Saul and David — Saul's J 
Jealousy turns into Madness — The Persecution of David — i 
Saul's last Battle against the Philistines — Defeat and Death. \ 

1067 — 1055 B.C.. 

The king who was placed at the head of the 
people through their own eager insistance and with 
the unwilling consent of the prophet, proved, more 
effectually than any objections could do, how little a 
monarchical constitution was fitted to realise the 
expectations founded on it ; for the king, until his 
accession a simple and excellent man, with no 
thoughts of ambition or arbitrary power, became 
guilty of cruelty and inhumanity in order to 
assert his dignity. 

By aid of the prophetic guidance, care was taken 
that he should not resemble the repulsive prototype 
drawn by Samuel, or become so independent as to 
place himself above all laws and rules, but that he 
should ever remain mindful of his lowly origin. 
Samuel did not select a king from the haughty 
tribe of Ephraim, lest he should act like Abime- 
lech, who in his presumption and ambition had 
killed his own brothers and laid waste whole dis- 
tricts ; but the king was chosen from the smallest 

CH. VI. SAUL. 85 

of the tribes, the tribe of Benjamin. His family, 
that of Matri, was one of the lowliest in Ben- 
jamin. His father, Kish, was not in any way dis- 
tinguished ; he was a simple countryman ; and 
nothing could be said in his praise, except that he 
was an upright man. Saul was chosen because he 
was content to work at his plough, and watch the 
increase of his father's flocks. He had no thought 
beyond the village in which he was born, and 
barely an idea that there were human beings to 
whom it was pleasant to possess sovereign power. 
In his shyness he displayed the ways of a true 
peasant ; these circumstances, and the personal 
qualities of Saul, seemed to be a security against 
any presumption or pride on the part of the first 
king of Israel. 

The excitement attending the choice of a king 
made a pleasing impression. *'See," said Samuel, 
"this is the man whom God has chosen as king; 
his like is not to be found in all Israel." Most 
of the bystanders, carried away by the solemn 
proceeding and by Saul's appearance, shouted, 
'* Long live the king!" Samuel then anointed 
the newly-elected king with holy oil, by which 
he was supposed to be rendered invulnerable. 
The elders rejoiced that their heartfelt wish of 
having a king to rule over them was at length 
realised. They looked forward for the happy 
days to come. This choice of a king was an 
important epoch in the history of the Jewish 
people; it determined their entire future. Yet 
during the joyful and solemn proceedings, discord 
had already arisen. Some discontented people, 
probably Ephraimites, who had hoped to have a 
king chosen from their own ranks, loudly expressed 
their disappointment. "How can this man help 
us!" Whilst all the other elders, according to 
universal custom, brought the king gifts of homage, 
and a few of the most courageous followed him to 



Gibeah to assist him against the enemies of Israel, i 
the malcontents kept apart and refused their alle- ; 
giance. | 

Saul's courage after his elevation to the throne i 
must have greatly increased, for he felt himself ■ 
guarded by God in his unexpected greatness. ^ 
He now boldly looked at the task of opposing his j 
mighty enemies and of settling the disorganised \ 
affairs of the commonwealth. The position of the ] 
people at his accession was very sad and humili- ; 
ating, almost worse than in the days of the Judges. \ 
Their arms, such as bows and arrows, swords, j 
&:c., had been carried off by the victorious! 
Philistines, who left no smith in the land to] 
make fresh weapons. The newly-elected king? 
had no sword, — the symbol of royalty among all 
nations and at all times. His election was probably! 
conducted so secretly that the Philistines knew| 
nothing of it. The Philistine tax-gatherers drewi 
all the strength out of the country, and at the| 
same time repressed every attempt at revolt. So f 
greatly were the Israelites humbled that some of| 
them had to accompany the Philistines on expedi- 
tions against their own brethren. Nought but; 
a miraculous event could have saved them, and 
such an event was brought about by Saul with hisj; 
son and kinsmen. I 

Saul's eldest son, Jonathan, was perhaps morej 
worthy of the kingly dignity than his father.! 
Modest and unselfish to a greater extent than| 
his father, courageous even to the defiance of| 
death, he combined with these qualities, an* 
almost excessive kindliness and gentleness, which!: 
endeared him to all. These qualities would!' 
have been serious failings in a ruler who had^ 
to display a certain amount of firmness andj! 
severity. Jonathan was, besides, endowed with*^ 
an enthusiastic nature, and /this made him very^j 
attractive. He was truthful, and an enemy to all \ 


deceit; he uttered his opinions freely, at the risk 
of displeasing, of losing his position and even his 
life, all which qualities made him a favourite with 
the people. Abner, the cousin of Saul, was of an 
entirely different disposition; he was a warrior of 
unbending strength, and possessed a consider- 
able degree of artfulness. To the inexperienced 
king and the people he rendered important service 
in their distress. Surrounded by these and other 
faithful adherents of his family and by the tribe of 
Benjamin in general, who were proud to gain 
notoriety through him, Saul set forth on the un- 
equal contest with the Philistines. Jonathan com- 
menced hostilities. In the town of Gibeah, or Gi- 
beah of Benjamin, lived the Philistine tax-gatherers, 
surrounded by a host of warriors. Jonathan attacked 
this post and killed the garrison. This was the 
first declaration of war; it was made at Saul's com- 
mand, and with his full approval. The king now 
ordered that the trumpet-blast should sound through- 
out the land of Benjamin, and announce that the war 
with the Philistines had commenced. Many heard 
the news with joy, others with sadness and dismay. 
All who had courage collected together in order 
to stand by their king, determined to aid him in 
casting off the disgrace of Israel, or to perish in the 
attempt. Those who were cowards escaped to the 
opposite side of Jordan, or hid in caverns, in clefts of 
the rocks, or in subterranean passages. A feeling 
of intense anxiety filled all minds as to the result of 
the contest. The meeting place of the Israelites was 
then in Gilgal, the town most remote from the land 
of the Philistines. This place of meeting had been 
appointed by the prophet Samuel. He had directed 
Saul to repair thither, and stay there seven days 
to await his arrival and further instructions. 
Gilgal probably contained the choir of musicians 
and prophets, whose psalms and songs inspired the 
Israelite warriors with martial courage and with a 


trust in the deliverance of their fatherland. Mean- 
while the Philistines prepared themselves for a war 
of extermination against the Israelites. The news of 
Jonathan's attack on their outposts had exasperated 
them; they were, however, more surprised than terri- 
fied. How could the cowardly weaponless, unarmed 
Israelites dare to attack the Philistines, their masters? 
A numerous band of warriors supported by cavalry 
passed through the valleys of the southern mountain 
range of Ephraim, and through the entire breadth 
of the land as far as Michmash; from this camping- 
place they spread their marauding bands in three 
directions; the most humiliating circumstance being 
that many Israelites were compelled to assist the 
Philistines in subduing their own tribesmen. 

This was a critical time for the people of Israel. 
Whilst the Philistines were gradually pushing for- 
ward to Michmash, Saul, surrounded by the brave 
men of his tribe, awaited in Gilgal the prophet who 
was to give the warriors his inspired directions, and 
thus endow them with courage. But day after 
day passed, and Samuel did not appear. Every 
hour spent in idleness seemed to destroy the 
chance of a successful issue. Saul feared that the 
enemy would descend from the mountains into 
the valley, attack Gilgal, and destroy or put to 
flight the small body of Israelites. A few of his 
soldiers had already deserted, looking on Samuel's 
absence as an inauspicious omen. Saul, becoming 
impatient, determined to attack the enemy on 
the seventh day on his own responsibility. Accord- 
ing to ancient practice, he made a sacrifice in order 
to propitiate the Deity, and to ensure his success 
in the battle. Just as he was preparing the burnt- 
offering, Samuel suddenly appeared and upbraided 
the king severely for being carried away by impa- 
tience. He resented this error with great severity, 
departed from Gilgal, and left Saul to his own 
resources — a hard blow for him, as he had reckoned 


confidently on the prophet's assistance at this dan- 
gerous juncture. After Samuel had departed from 
Gilgal, Saul found it impossible to remain there. He 
therefore repaired with the remnant of his troops to 
Gibeah. Here he reviewed his soldiers, and found 
they did not amount to more than six hundred. It 
is not surprising that Saul and Jonathan became 
dispirited at the sight of this slight force, which was 
unarmed and had to fight the well-appointed armies 
of the enemy. Saul and Jonathan alone possessed 
swords. It was indeed a poor beginning to the 
newly-established kingdom. The most painful 
blow for Saul was that, through Samuel's absence, 
he was deprived of the means by which the people 
might ascertain the will of God. 

Jonathan, however, made a good beginning at 
Gibeah, where Saul and his troops lay encamped, 
scarcely an hour's distance from Michmash, the site 
of the Philistine camp. Between the two armies 
lay a valley, but the road which led from one place 
to the other was impracticable, the valley being 
bordered by steep, almost perpendicular walls of 
rocks and precipices, which closed it up on the east 
till it became a mere gorge of about ten feet in 
width. On the west side, where the valley formed 
a wide pass, the Philistines had stationed their out- 
posts. Thus the Philistines and Israelites could 
only come to an encounter in the narrow path. 
At last Jonathan determined to ascend the steepest 
part of the pass, and accompanied by his sword- 
bearer he climbed up on hands and feet the 
steep sharp points of the rock on the side of 
Michmash. One false step would have precipi- 
tated him into the depths below, but happily he 
and his man arrived safely at the highest point. 
When the Philistines beheld them they were not a 
little surprised that a path had been found on 
this rocky road to their camp. Deceived by 
this ruse, and fearing that other Israelites would 


follow, they called out scornfully, " Look at the 
Hebrews, they are crawling out of their hiding- 
places ; come higher up, we wish to become better 
acquainted with you."* It had been previously 
agreed between Jonathan and his sword-bearer that 
should they receive such a challenge they would 
press on and bravel}^ commence the attack. The 
Philistines who first beheld the daring climbers, 
soon left off scoffing, for twenty men were killed at 
the first attack with pieces of rock and sling-stones. 
The Benjamites were very skilful in the use of 
the sling, and Jonathan and his sword-bearer 
advanced further and continued hurling masses of 
rock at the Philistines. Terror-stricken by this 
sudden attack from a side where approach had 
seemed impossible, they could only imagine 
themselves attacked by supernatural beings, and 
seized with fear, they fought each other or 
broke the ranks in the wildest confusion. Saul, 
who was watching from a high eminence, no sooner 
perceived the enemy beginning to fly than he 
hurried to the scene of action followed by his six 
hundred warriors, and completed the defeat of 
the Philistines. Those Israelites who had until then 
been compelled by the Philistines to fight against 
their own brethren, turned their arms against their 
oppressors. Others who had hidden themselves 
in the clefts and grottoes of the mountains of Eph- 
raim took courage when they witnessed the flight of 
the Philistines, and swelled the ranks of the ag- 
gressors. SauPs troops, thus Increased, numbered 
ten thousand. In every town of Mount Ephraim, 
through which the Philistines passed in their flight, 
they were attacked by the inhabitants and cut down 
one by one. Though tired and exhausted, Saul's 
troops pursued the retreating foe for eight hours. 

An occurrence of apparently slight consequence, 
but which proved to be of great importance, put a 

* I Samuel xiv. 12. 


Stop to further pursuit. Saul had impressed on his i 
soldiers that the destruction of their enemy was not 
to be interrupted even for food or refreshment, and 
he pronounced a curse on him who should take the 
slightest nourishment. Jonathan, who was always 
foremost, had heard nothing of this curse. Ex- 
hausted from the long fight and pursuit he could 
not restrain himself, and tasted wild honey into 
which he had dipped his staff. When his attention 
was drawn to his father's peremptory command, 
he openly avowed his act. Saul, however, made a 
serious matter of it, and determined to condemn 
Jonathan to death. But the people protested 
vehemently. *'What! " cried the warriors, '' shall 
Jonathan to whom the people owes its great victory 
be killed ? No, not a hair of his head shall be 
touched."* The people offered a sin-offering for 
Jonathan, and thus released him from death. 
Through this episode the pursuit of the Philistines 
to the west of Aijalon was suspended. Great was 
the joy of the Israelites at the victory they had so 
unexpectedly obtained. The battle of Michmashi 
fully restored their valour. They had regained 
their weapons, and they felt strong enough to fight 
under a king whose firmness of resolve they 
had experienced. But Saul returned humbly and 
modestly to his dwelling place in Gibeah, and 
ploughed, as heretofore, his father's fields. He 
was not yet blinded by his new dignity. Mean- 
while the hostilities of the Ammonites against the 
tribes on the other side of the Jordan had in- 
creased. Nahash, king of the Ammonites, besieged 
the fortress of Jabesh-Gilead. The inhabitants 
were unable to hold out for long, and negotiated 
with Nahash about a capitulation. He made a 
hard, inhuman condition with the Gileadites of 
Jabesh. As a disgrace to Israel, all men should 
consent to lose the right eye. What were the 

^ I Samuel xiv. 45. 


Gileadites to do? They treated for a delay of 
seven .days in order to send messages to their 
fellow-tribesmen. While Saul was one day return- 
ing home with his yoke of bullocks from the field, he 
met the inhabitants of Gibeah in great excitement 
and bathed in tears. Astonished at this, he asked 
the cause of their grief, and the messengers from 
Jabesh-Gilead related what would befall their town 
if speedy assistance were not at hand. Incensed at 
the disgraceful condition imposed by the king of 
the Ammonites, Saul immediately determined to 
bring aid to the Gileadites of Jabesh. For the first 
time he exercised his royal prerogative by sum- 
moning all Israel to take part in the campaign 
against the Ammonites. 

Samuel supported this summons by declaring 
that he too would join in the expedition. By Saul's 
command all the warriors assembled at the meet- 
ing-place. The anarchy of the era of the Judges 
was now at an end, and a stern will ruled, A 
large body of Israelites crossed the Jordan ; 
the Ammonites, attacked on the south, north, and 
west, fled in all directions, and no two of 
them remained together. The people of Jabesh 
were saved, and ever after displayed the deepest 
gratitude to Saul and his house for the help so 
quickly and energetically rendered to them. On 
his recrossing the Jordan, after his second victory 
over the enemy, Saul was greeted with tumultuous 
joy. Samuel, who was a witness to these expres- 
sions of delight, thought it wise to remind the king 
and his people that their triumph should not turn 
into pride, and that they should not consider the 
kingly dignity as an end, but only as a means. He 
therefore summoned a large gathering of the 
Israelites, and determined to call the king's and the 
people's attention to their duties. Samuel again 
anointed Saul as king; the people renewed their 
homage, and made joyful offerings. 


In the midst of these rejoicings Samuel delivered 
an address, which bears testimony to the powers of 
his mind and to his greatness as a prophet. 

Saul's two important victories, and the assem- 
blage at Gilgal, where homage had been rendered 
to him by nearly all the tribes, consolidated his 
power, and the royal dominion was placed on a 
permanent basis. Although Samuel praised and 
extolled the days of the Judges, the people yet 
felt that it could better appreciate a king than a 
hero-judge. The nation willingly exchanged its re- 
publican liberty for the prize of unity and the power 
obtained thereby. The kingly estate led to various 
changes. Saul had to employ responsible men 
for the execution of his commands ; he required a 
number of officers and servants. Officers of war were 
appointed to rule over hundreds and thousands 
respectively, and councillors, who were admitted 
to the king's table. A special band of men 
served as runners {raziin), an armed force who 
became the obedient instruments of the king's will. 
These and their chief formed the king's court. 
Saul's leader of the guard was named Doag, an 
Idumaean by birth. Owing to the presence of the 
standing army and attendants, Gibeah, till then only 
a small town, now became the capital. Towards 
Samuel, Saul had at first shown all submission. 
When the prophet in the name of God commanded 
him to declare war to the death with the Amalekites, 
Saul immediately made preparations and summoned 
his warriors. The Amalekites were the implacable 
and hereditary enemies of the Israelites, and had dis- 
played the greatest cruelty towards them during 
their wanderings in the desert, and on their entry 
into the Holy Land. These enemies often joined 
other nations, in order to crush the Israelites. The 
Amalekite king Agag appears to have caused great 
trouble to the tribe of Judah in the days of Saul. 

It was however no light task to undertake 


hostilities against the Amalekites. Agag was con- 
sidered a great hero, and inspired all around him 
with fear; but although the Amalekites were re- 
nowned for their courage and power, Saul did not 
hesitate to prepare for this hazardous campaign. 
He appears to have carried on the strife with skill 
and courage, and to have drawn the enemy into an 
ambush, by which he was enabled to obtain a com- 
plete victory. He took the capital (possibly Kadesh), 
killed the men, women and children, and captured 
the dreaded king Agag. Only a few of the people 
who escaped with their lives, took refuge in the 
great neighbouring desert which leads to Egypt. 
The Israelite warriors carried off rich booty, in- 
cluding flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and camels. 
According to Samuel's command, this spoil was 
to be destroyed, so that every trace of the memory 
of Amalek might be lost. The soldiers, however,, 
did not wish this rich spoil to be given up to 
destruction. Saul, ordinarily so rigid in his dis- 
cipline, permitted the preservation of the booty, 
and thus transgressed the prophet's directions. 
Saul was not a little proud of his victory over 
the dreaded Amalekites, and he caused the 
king Agag to be led in chains as a living sign 
of triumph. His success in battle intoxicated him, 
and caused him to forget his former humility. On 
his return he erected a monument of his victory 
in the oasis of Carmel. Meanwhile, Samuel in a 
prophetic vision had learned that the king had not 
fulfilled the instructions given him, and was there- 
fore to be punished. 

Samuel had to announce this to the victorious 
king ; but the task was difficult, and he struggled 
and prayed a whole night. At last he determined 
to proceed to meet Saul. But hearing, on the way, 
that Saul was so dominated by pride as to cause 
a monument to be raised, he turned back and re- 
paired to Gilgal. When Saul heard of this journey, 


he followed him thither. The elders of Benjamin 
and the neighbouring tribes also proceeded to Gil- 
gal to salute the victorious king. Here they were 
witnesses to a strife, which foreboded evil times. 

As though nothing had occurred, the king met the 
prophet with these words, '* I have fulfilled God's 
commands." On which Samuel sternly replied to 
him, "What is the meaning of the bleating of the 
sheep which I hear? " "It was the people," an- 
swered Saul, "who spared the best of the sheep 
and the oxen, in order to sacrifice them on the altar 
at Gilgal." * At these words the prophet Samuel 
could no longer repress his anger ; and he replied 
in winged words: " Hath the Lord as great delight 
in burnt- offerings and sacrifice, as in obeying His 
voice ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and 
to hearken, than the fat of rams. For the sin of 
witchcraft comes from rebellion, and the iniquity of 
Teraphim from stubbornness. Because thou hast 
rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected 
thee from being king." * 

Saul was so deeply humiliated at these words 
and at the severe and gloomy tone which the pro- 
phet adopted, that he confessed his fault and clung 
to Samuel's robe so firmly that it was torn. Samuel 
then said, "This is an omen: God will tear thy 
kingly dignity from thee and will give it to a 
better man, even should Israel be torn asunder in 
the act." * Once more Saul entreated the prophet. 
"At least honour me now before the elders of 
my tribe and of Israel, and return with me." * 

In consideration of this entreaty Samuel accom- 
panied him to the altar, where the king humbled 
himself before God. Samuel then ordered that the 
fettered king Agag should be led forth. The 
Amalekite king exclaimed in his fear, "Oh how bitter, 
how bitter is death!" * To this exclamation Samuel 

* I Samuel xv. 22 to s^- ^^ the 32nd verse read 7na 

r mar 


replied, *'As thy sword hath made women childless, 
so shall thy mother be childless among women," * 
and Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the king 
in Gilgal. 

After this scene in Gilgal the king and the prophet 
avoided each other. The victory which Saul had 
obtained over Amalek had been a defeat for him 
— his pride had been crushed. The announcement 
that God had abandoned him threw a dark shadow 
over his soul. His gloom, which later on developed 
into madness, owed its rise to the threat which 
Samuel had used to him, *' God will give the king- 
dom of Israel to a better man. ""I" These terrible words 
were ever ringing in Saul's ears. Just as he had 
at first hesitated to accept the reins of govern- 
ment, he w^as now unwilling to let them pass from 
his hands. At the same time he felt himself help- 
less. What could he do against the severity of the 
prophet? In order to divert himself he plunged 
into warfare. There were many enemies on the 
borders of Israel whom he wished to subdue. He 
also pursued another course in order to impress the 
people with a sense of his importance. 

There still lived amongst the Israelites a few 
Canaanite families and small clans who had not' 
been expelled when the country was conquered, 
and could not now be ejected. These had led the 
Israelites to honour false gods, and to indulge in 
idolatrous errors. Saul therefore thought that he 
would greatly benefit the nation and serve the law 
of Israel if he removed these idolatrous neighbours, 
and everything that was foreign. The strangers 
who had been suffered to remain, were the men 
of Gibeon, they having voluntarily submitted to the 
conquering Israelites. Saul did not respect the 
oath given to the Gibeonites, but ordered a whole- 
sale massacre amongst them, from which but few 

* See note on previous page. t I Samuel xv. 28. 


Together with the foreign Canaanite nations he 
also persecuted the idolatrous magicians who were 
connected with them. Whilst Saul, on the one 
hand, endeavoured to acquire the good will of his 
people, and showed himself the severe champion 
of the laws given by God, he tried, on the other 
hand, to impress the nation with submissive dread of 
the kingly power. He wore a golden crown on his 
head, as a sign of greatness and exaltation above the 
masses. His contemporaries, who had known 
him as a ploughman, and might be inclined to treat 
him as their equal, were to forget his past, and 
become accustomed to gaze at him with awe as 
the anointed wearer of the holy crown. Saul also 
indulged in the royal luxury of polygamy. He 
took wives in addition to his first wife Achinoam, 
whom he had married when he was still a peasant. 
Among these was the beautiful and courageous 

Saul showed much energy in his raids against 
the enemy, and no doubt, in order to dissipate the 
fears aroused by the prophet's harsh words, he 
displayed great pomp and ostentation, until then 
foreign to his nature. But sooner than he had 
anticipated, the evil spirit of his imagination took 
form in the shape of a youth that charmed him 
despite himself. 

It happened at one of the frequent fights with the 
enemy that Saul's troops were drawn up in martial 
array against the Philistines, and the two armies 
stood face to face, only separated from each other 
by a deep ravine. Both were fearful of taking the 
first decisive step. At length the Philistines made 
the proposal that the battle should be settled by 
single combat, and they sent forth as their champion 
the gigantic warrior Goliath. King Saul would 
gladly have seen one of his army go forth to the 
duel, and he promised the victor rich presents, 
exemption from taxes, freedom from compulsory 

VOL. I. H 


service, and the hand of one of his daughters. But 
not even at such a price did any one of the Israelite 
army dare to oppose himself to Goliath. Then, as 
if by chance, a shepherd boy of Bethlehem, a 
town near to the field of battle, presented himself, 
and brought about a decisive issue. 

This shepherd of Bethlehem, directly or indi- 
rectly, was the cause of a revolution in the his- 
tory of Israel, and in the history of the human 
race. David, then known only to the inhabitants 
of the village or the town of Bethlehem, has 
since become a celebrated name throughout the 
world. After his disagreement with Saul, Samuel 
had received the prophetic mission to repair to 
Bethlehem in order to anoint the future king of 
Israel from amongst the eight sons of the aged 
Jesse as successor to Saul. Samuel set out in 
secret, lest he should be pursued by the king. 
The prophet selected David as the future king 
chosen by God, and anointed him as king of Israel 
in the presence of his brothers. This simple but 
important act was naturally performed in privacy, 
and was kept secret by David's father and brothers. 

Jesse, the father of David, was not descended 
from a distinguished house of Judah, but, like all 
the inhabitants of Bethlehem, he belonged to a very 
humble family. David was about eighteen years 
old when he was anointed, and was not distin- 
guished either by his experience or by any deed. 
The beautiful pasture-land round about Bethlehem 
had till then composed his world. But qualities lay 
dormant in him which only needed to be aroused 
to place him as much intellectually above his con- 
temporaries as Saul surpassed them physically. 
David was pre-eminently gifted with poetic and 
musical talent, and whilst he yet tended his flock his 
harp awakened the echoes of the mountains. A 
single circumstance, however, sufficed to change 
this youth into a man. 


Samuel returned to Ramah as secretly as he had 
left ; but he kept an eye on the youth whom he had 
anointed, and he now drew him into the circle 
of his disciples. Here David's poetic talents were 
developed. He was able to perfect himself in the 
use of musical instruments. He learnt still more 
among Samuel's surroundings ; he learnt ** to know 
God." His spirit became imbued with the presence 
of the Deity and received a pious unction. He 
referred all things to God, and submitted in all 
things to the Divine guidance. This reliance on God 
had been awakened and strengthened in him by the 
influence of Samuel. David frequently journeyed 
from Bethlehem to Ramah, and from Samuel's 
house to the flocks of his father. The elevated 
spirit to which he had attained since he had been 
anointed under the influence of Samuel, did not desert 
him when he tended his flocks in the meadows of 
Bethlehem. When war broke out with the Philis- 
tines, in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, David 
could no longer remain a shepherd of his flocks, 
and he gladly undertook to deliver a message 
to his brothers who were serving in the army, 
so as to have an excuse for entering the camp. 
On his arrival there, he timidly told the bystanders 
that he was willing to risk an encounter with the 
blaspheming Philistine, who reviled the army of the 
living God. The news soon reached the king's 
ears that a youth had offered himself for the com- 
bat. Half convinced, half in scorn, Saul gave him 
permission to engage in the duel and offered him 
his own armour. The first stone, cast with his 
skilled hand from the sling, struck the heavily armed 
giant from afar; he fell to the ground. David 
threw himself upon Goliath, drew the sword out of 
the scabbard, and cut off the giant's head. The 
Philistines, from the hilltops, had witnessed the fall 
of their champion whom they had thought invincible ; 
they declared themselves conquered, and no longer 

H 2 


sought to prolong the war — In fact, they fled to their 
fastnesses. The troops of Israel, on the other hand, 
carried away by David's victory, followed their 
enemy In hot pursuit. 

Holding the bleeding head in his hand, the youth- 
ful victor was led before Saul, to whom he had till 
then been unknown. He had not the remotest sus- 
picion that this youth, from whom he could not 
withhold his admiration, might become a dreaded 
rival. He felt great joy at the signal victory. His 
son Jonathan, who had an open, tender and unselfish 
heart, was enchanted with the young victor. His 
love and attachment for David became stronger 
than man's love for woman. David's name, and 
the victory he had obtained in Ephes-Damim, 
soon resounded throughout the valley of Terebinths, 
and in the territories of all the tribes. David, 
however, returned to his father's house as though 
nothing had happened, and merely took Goliath's 
shield and armour with him as memorials ; but 
he did not remain long at home. The destiny of 
Saul had begun to be fulfilled, and David liad been 
chosen as its instrument. The gloom of dejection 
which had obscured the soul of the king since his 
breach with the prophet became still darker. His 
ill-humour deepened into sadness and melancholy, 
and sometimes the paroxysms of wild madness 
took hold of him. **An evil spirit hath entered 
the king," his servants whispered to each other. 
Instrumental music alone was capable of rousing 
him ; his faithful servants therefore proposed that 
a skilled harpist and poet should come to the court, 
and they advised him to select the son of Jesse, who 
was handsome, brave, eloquent, and a harpist. 
David came, and cheered the king by his playing 
and his general bearing. Whenever Saul fell into 
melancholy, David had only to touch the harp to 
rid the king of his depression. Saul felt himself 
enchained by David. He began to consider him 


like a son, and at length entreated David's father to 
leave him permanently at court. Saul appointed him 
armour-bearer, in order to have him always near and 
to be cheered by him. This was the first step of 
David's rise. But not only was the king attracted 
by him, David exercised an influence over the entire 
court, and all hearts turned towards him. Jonathan, 
however, loved him best of all. Saul's second 
daughter, Michal, was also secretly devoted to him. 
At the court David learnt the use of weapons, and 
exchanged the harp for the sword. As he was full of 
courage, he soon distinguished himself in the small 
frays in which he took part, and came off victorious 
and successful. On one occasion, when David had 
inflicted a signal defeat on the Philistines, and 
when there were great rejoicings throughout the 
Israelite territory, the women and maidens of the 
various cities which he traversed on his return, 
came forth to meet him with songs, timbrels and 
cymbals, dancing around him, and joyfully pro- 
claiming him victor, saying, " Saul has killed his 
thousands, but David his tens of thousands." 
These honours, unanimously and enthusiastically 
offered to the youthful hero, at length opened Saul's 
eyes. This was "the better man," the one whom 
God had chosen as king over Israel ; the rival with 
whom Samuel had threatened him, whom he dreaded 
so greatly, but who had hitherto only appeared to 
him as a visionary being, was now actually before 
him in the person of his own favourite and that of 
his people. 

It was a terrible disillusion for Saul. '* To me 
they give but thousands, and to him tens of 
thousands — they place him above me. What Is yet 
wanting to make him king ? " The joyous shouts of 
the singing and dancing chorus of women rang in 
his ears from that time, and brought to mind the 
words of the prophet, *' Thou art deserted of God." 
Saul's love for David now changed to bitter hate, 
which soon turned to madness. 


On the day succeeding David's return from his 
triumphal procession, Saul became seized with 
frenzy, and twice hurled a spear at David, who 
skilfully avoided the thrust. When the mad fit 
had left Saul, the failure of this attempt seemed to 
him a proof that God was protecting his enemy. 
From that time he sought to destroy his rival by 
stratagem. He pretended to honour David ; made 
him the leader of the picked detachment of a thou- 
sand men ; ordered him to direct attacks of great 
importance and danger, and offered him his eldest 
daughter, Merab, for a wife. Saul hoped to bring 
the man whom he hated to ruin by these apparent 
marks of favour. David, however, avoided the 
danger by refusing to marry Merab, and, on the 
other hand, he had the good fortune to defeat the 
Philistines. He was to bring proofs of having 
killed one hundred Philistines, and he brought 
evidence of having slain double the number, and 
so Saul was obliged to keep his promise and 
to give him his daughter Michal. She and 
Jonathan sided with David in opposition^ to their 
father, thus incensing Saul still more, so that 
he sought to take David's life, at first secretly, 
and then openly, by leading his forces against 
him. David was proclaimed an outlaw, and be- 
came utterly desperate. He was now joined by 
youths and men as reckless as himself — men only 
anxious for strife. Chief amongst these was his kins- 
man, Joab, who, with his two brothers, formed the 
nucleus of the body of heroic warriors {Gidborim) 
by whose assistance David was to rise step by step 
to the throne. A prophet named Gad, belonging 
to the school of Samuel, also joined him. The last 
representatives of the sacerdotal family of Eli, the 
high-priest, were driven by Saul into the very arms 
of his supposed enemy. Saul, fearing that the 
priests of Nob, the relations and descendants of 
Eli were aiding David, caused them to be cruelly 


murdered, and the priestly city to be destroyed. 
One family, that of Abiathar, alone escaped death, 
and fled to David, who received the fugitives with 
open arms. Hatred of his rival made Saul cruel and 
bloodthirsty. All attempts on the part of Jonathan, 
who desired to mediate between his father and his 
friend, proved fruitless, and only served to widen 
the breach. Saul being clearly in the wrong, a 
part of the nation sided with David ; but unable to 
assist him openly, they gave him secret help, by 
which he was enabled to escape from repeated per- 
secutions. It is to be deplored that David, in his 
wanderings and privations, was obliged to form 
friendly relations with the enemies of his country — 
with the king of Moab ; with the Ammonite king, 
Nahash ; and with the king of the Philistines, 
Achish. He thus brought on himself the suspicion 
that he had become a traitor to his country, and 
that Saul's enmity to him was justified. David's 
union with Achish, by whom he had been at first 
refused protection, but with whom he had on the 
second occasion found refuge, seemed especially 
adapted to implicate him. Achish only granted 
him his protection on the conditions that he would 
break entirely with Saul and his country, that, in 
case of war, he and his troops, amounting to six 
hundred men, would join the Philistines against 
his own tribe, and that in times of peace he 
should make incursions on the remote portions of 
Judah, and deliver up a part of the booty to 
his liege lord. David certainly appears to have 
determined to avoid these conditions, or in case 
of war to join his own tribe against his allies. But 
he would then have to tread in crooked ways, 
and to give up the honesty of purpose which had 
hitherto distinguished him. It is probable that 
the wild appearance of David's troops did not 
make a very pleasant impression on the inhabitants 
of Philistia. The Philistine chiefs were displeased 


that their sovereign should ally himself with a 
leader who owed his glory to victories over their 
own people. King Achish ho\^ever, expected so 
much from this alliance that he paid no heed to 
the warning of his counsellors. But David himself 
felt the discomfort of living amongst the Philistine 
population. He therefore begged Achish to assign 
to him and his followers a dwelling-place in one 
of his citadels. This proposition being agreeable 
to the Philistine king, he gave David the town of 
Ziklag. No sooner had the news spread that a 
special city had been appointed for David's occupa- 
tion, than warlike men, both strangers and natives, 
joined him, , many of whom later on distinguished 
themselves by their heroism. Achish believed that 
in David he had secured a faithful ally, who em- 
ployed his military knowledge and courage to 
injure the members of his own tribe, and who after 
such proceedings, could never again make peace 
with his own people. 

In the delusion with which David had adroitly 
impressed him, Achish thought himself secure in 
undertaking a decisive war against the Israelites. 
Saul was sunk in melancholy, and since his quarrel 
with his son-in-law had lost his former energy for 
battle. The strong arm which had fought for him 
and the quick brain which had planned for him were 
now on the side of the enemy. The bravest youths 
and men in Israel had placed themselves under 
David's command. Achish summoned all his troops, 
in order to inflict a decisive blow on Israel. He led 
his army to the plain of Jezreel, crossed the plain, 
and passed along the coast of the Mediterranean. 
This territory had belonged to the Philistines since 
their victory over the Phoenicians, and It was, 
besides, easier to employ the cavalry and chariots 
there than in the mountains. In consequence of 
their treaty Achish demanded that David should 
aid him In this great war against Saul, and that 

CH. VI. ACHISH. 105 

he should unite his troops with the Philistine army. 
David's heart must indeed have been heavy when 
he joined the army, but he had no choice; he 
had sold himself to the enemies of his nation. 
The Philistine nobles, however, delivered him from 
his equivocal position. They loudly and stormily 
demanded that the king should send away David 
and his soldiers, as they were suspicious of their 
fidelity. The Philistine king was forced by their 
almost rebellious demand to dismiss David ; and, 
after giving him the assurance of his unshaken 
confidence in his fidelity, to send him back to 
Ziklag. This was fortunate for David, as he was 
thus relieved from the difficulty of becoming either 
a traitor to his own people, or of breaking faith 
with his ally Achish. 

The Philistines - meanwhile went forth in their 
thousands and encamped near to the town of 
Shunem. Saul, who had received news of the 
arming of the Philistines and their expedition, 
called together the Israelite troops, advanced in 
forced marches to meet them, and encamped at the 
foot of Mount Gilboa. He then surrounded the 
opposite heights and proceeded northwards with his 
troops and encamped at the north-west base of the 
mountain range near Endor. Saul lost heart at 
the sight of the great numbers of the Philistines, 
and especially when he beheld their cavalry ; the 
evil days which he had brought on himself, deprived 
him of courage. He felt himself deserted by God, 
to whom he had addressed an inquiry as to the 
result of the war, for neither priest nor prophet 
could give him an answer. The spirit of dreams 
also had left him. He therefore sought a woman 
who practised ventriloquism in Endor, who had 
withdrawn to that place to escape persecution, and 
who exercised her witchcraft privately. It was a 
peculiar fate for Saul, that he was driven to have 
recourse to the arts of jugglery, which he had 


banished from his dominions. With a heavy heart 
Saul went to battle, and as though his fears had 
infected his troops, the result proved disastrous. 
The Israelites, indeed, fought bravely, and the 
battle lasted the whole day, but they could not 
contend on the plain with the cavalry and war 
chariots, so they took refuge on Mount Gilboa. 
Here they were pursued and routed by the Philis- 
tines; Saul's three sons, the amiable Jonathan, 
Abinadab and Malchishua, all fell ; Saul found him- 
self suddenly alone, attended only by his armour- 
bearer, whilst the Philistine bowmen pressed on 
him. The king did not wish to flee nor to be taken 
prisoner and exposed to the scorn of the Philistines. 
He therefore entreated his servant to give him the 
death-blow. He, however, was unwilling to lay 
hands on the king, and so Saul had no alternative 
but to fall on his own sword, and die a death worthy 
of a king. The destruction was fearful, the flower 
of the Israelite troops lay strewn on Mount Gilboa 
and the plain of Jezreel. 

After the Philistines had rested from their hard 
day's work, they explored the battle-field, and 
stripped the slain of their clothes and ornaments. 
Here they found the corpses of Saul and of his three 
sons. The king's head and his weapons they sent as 
trophies to Philistia, his skull they preserved in the 
temple of Dagon, and his weapons in a temple of 
Astarte to commemorate the great victory over 
Israel. They then forced their way into the towns 
on the plain of Jezreel, and into those in the north- 
eastern territory near the Jordan and fortified 
them. The inhabitants on hearing of the defeat 
at Gilboa had fled to the opposite side of the 
Jordan. The Philistines, as an insult to the 
Israelites, hung the headless bodies of Saul and 
his son Jonathan on the walls of Bethshan. It 
appears that the Philistines followed up their vic- 
tory to the south of Mount Gilboa and Bethshan, 


and occupied all the important towns. SauFs 
capital of Gibeah-Saul was so filled with terror 
at the approach of the Philistines that Jonathan's 
infant son (five years old) named Mephibosheth, 
who was being- carried away by his nurse for safety, 
was dropped on the mountain by her, in her haste. 
The boy broke his leg in the fall and remained 
lame for life. Saul left his country in a deplorable 
position at his death, for things were worse than had 
even been the case at his accession. The defeat 
had been so thorough and unexpected, that at the 
moment there was no thought of opposition, all 
courage had vanished. It was even considered an 
act of daring that some men of Jabesh-Gilead (from 
the opposite side of the Jordan), out of gratitude 
to Saul who had brought aid to their town, 
ventured to avert disgrace from the king's 
body. They crossed the Jordan, at Bethshan 
by night, took Saul's and Jonathan's bodies from 
the walls, buried them under a terebinth and 
mourned for them during seven days. The tribes 
on the near side of the Jordan had not the same 
courage or felt no gratitude to Saul who had 
brought misery on the land by his estrangement 
from David. Such was the end of a king whose 
choice the nation had hailed with so much hope 
and joy. 



Burning of Ziklag — Defeat of the Amalekites — Judah elects David 
as King — Abner and Ishbosheth — War between the houses of Saul 
and David— Murder of Abner — Death of Ishbosheth— David re- 
cognised as sole King — Capture of Zion — Fortification of Jerusalem 
— War with the Philistines — Victory of David — The Heroes — 
Alliance with Hiram — Removal of the Ark of the Sanctuary to 
Jerusalem — The High-Priests — Choral Services of the Temple- 
Internal Government of Israel — The Gibeonites and Rizpah— 

1055— 1035 B.C. 

David, from whom formerly so much had been 
hoped, also seemed to have been forgotten by the 
people. What had he done while his fatherland 
was bleeding? Whether his expedition with the 
Philistines was known or not, it must have appeared 
strange to all that at this sad crisis he kept himself 
aloof from every danger, only caring for his own 
safety, and that far from hastening to the aid of his 
oppressed people, he remained firm to his treaty 
with the Philistines. It is true, he was himself at 
that time in distress, but the incidents which con- 
cerned him became known only later on. For the 
moment it must have been mortifying to those who 
cared for the common-weal of the kingdom that 
David was allied with the enemy, and that, during 
the absence of king Achish, in the war against Israel 
David seemed to a certain extent to guard the 
enemy's frontiers. When David was sent back from 
his intended expedition with the Philistines on ac- 
count of the suspicions of the nobles, he found that 
his 'town of Ziklag had been burnt down, and the 
women and children and all those who joined him had 
disappeared. The Amalekites, who had suffered 


under David's attacks, had made use of his absence in 
order to undertake a raid against him. The grief of 
the troops was so great when they found that their 
belongings had disappeared and their town had been 
destroyed, that they turned on David in their anger, 
and threatened him with death. However they took 
fresh courage from the oracular words of Abiathar 
the priest, and permitted themselves to be appeased. 
Hurriedly, David and his men then followed in pur- 
suit. They discovered the camp of the Amalekites 
from an Egyptian slave whom they found ill and 
deserted by the way-side. They pursued the 
Amalekites, and David's angry soldiers routed them 
so completely that most of them were left dead on the 
field of battle, and only a few could escape on camels. 
David and his troops returned to Ziklag buoyed 
up by victory. They commenced to rebuild their 
town and to settle down. Part of the booty taken 
from the Amalekites, David sent as gifts to the 
elders of the people and to his friends in the various 
towns from Beersheba to Hebron so as to spread 
the news of his victory and at the same time to gain 
partisans for himself. Hardly had he regained a 
firm footing in Ziklag, than he heard the evil tidings 
of the defeat and death of Saul. 

The chief men of the tribe of Judah, advised 
by those friends whose interest he had won 
by his affability, chose David as king. He then 
entered into communication with the tribes at the 
other side of the Jordan, in order to win them 
also to his side. To the tribes on the near side of 
the river he could not appeal, as they were still 
under the yoke of the Philistines. He expressed 
his contentment and his thanks to the inhabitants of 
Jabesh-Gilead for having shown their fidelity towards 
Saul even in his death, and for having rescued the 
corpse of the king from ill-usage. He also informed 
them of the fact that the tribe of Judah had elected 
him as Saul's successor. 


His unhappy fate however, still kept him in the 
hands of the Philistines, and his prudence was 
struggling with his patriotism. The latter incited 
him to risk everything, in order to release himself 
from the fetters which bound him, whilst the former, 
on the other hand, urged him not to arouse the 
anger of his powerful neighbour. Achish gave 
David full permission to consider himself king of 
Judah, and to make incursions on the border lands 
of the desert on condition that he received his share 
of the booty, but beyond this David was not per- 
mitted to advance a step. The deliverance of the 
land from the Philistines, which David, whose hands 
were bound, was unable to carry out, was effected 
by Abner, Saul's general. He had succeeded in 
escaping in the great defeat at Gilboa, and he did 
not lose courage, but saved what was possible in the 
ruin which befell the house of Saul. Attended by 
some fugitives he took refuge on the other side of 
the Jordan (beyond the reach of the Philistines), 
where many hearts were still faithful to Saul and 
his house. To this place Abner conducted the sur- 
viving son of Saul, Ishbosheth, and the remaining 
members of the helpless royal family, and he in- 
duced the tribes residing on that side of the river 
to acknowledge Ishbosheth as Saul's successor. 
When Abner had collected a powerful force from 
amongst the tribes and the Benjamites surrounding 
him, he commenced his contest with the Philistines. 
Abner was successful in ousting the Philistines from 
the neighbouring border towns, but it was only after 
a struggle of four or five years that he was enabled 
to free the whole country, (1055-105 1), so arduous 
was the contest. The tribe of Benjamin was the most 
difficult to reconquer, as the Philistines could most 
easily occupy its territory with troops. Every tribe 
which Abner delivered was eager to pay homage 
to the son of Saul. Abner achieved great results, 
he not only fought for liberty but he induced tribes 

CH. VII. ABNER's successes. Ill 

who had shown themselves unruly under Saul's 
government to join the commonwealth. He was 
the actual founder of the kingdom of the ten 
tribes of Israel, and he firmly welded together the 
links which bound them. But, notwithstanding his 
victory and his exertions, the nation was suddenly 
divided into two kingdoms — that of Israel and that 
of Judah — and two kings ruled them. The tribe of 
Judah which the energy of Samuel and of Saul 
had drawn from its seclusion and reunited with the 
other tribes was thus again separated from the 

Abner's victories aroused no feelings of joy 
because they led to disunion. The historian's pen 
hurries over his deeds and touches but lightly on 
the hero's achievements. The nature of the position 
made an amalgamation of the houses of Judah and 
Israel impossible. Not only were the two kings, 
David and Ishbosheth, averse to the reunion of the 
several tribes (as in such case one of the two must 
resign his kingly dignity), but their adherents and 
especially their respective generals Joab and Abner 
displayed a great degree of mutual jealousy. The 
turning point in the scale was that the house of 
Judah was led by a brave and martial king, who had 
been consecrated by Samuel and whose person was 
therefore considered holy, whilst Ishbosheth, a 
king only in name, had not been confirmed in his 
dignity by the voice of God, and who appears also 
to have been of an unwarlike disposition. The whole 
power rested in the hands of his general Abner. 
Ishbosheth remained in some remote corner of his 
possessions, whilst David had his dwelling place in 
the midst of his tribe and could thus direct ever}^- 
thing from his residence in Hebron. 

After Abner had won or reconquered all the 
tribes with the exception of Judah, a civil war 
broke out between the houses of Israel and Judah, 
or more correctly speaking between the hquses 


of Saul and David. This war lasted two years 
(105 1 -1049), ^^^ raged very fiercely. At length 
Abner called upon Joab to put an end to the 
slaughter of the masses. He cried, **Must the 
sword slay for ever ; dost thou not know that only 
misfortune can arise from this warfare ? Why dost 
thou not command thy people to hold off from their 
brethren ? '' At length Joab also found it advisable 
to put aside his weapons and to proclaim an 
armistice. He and his people bore the corpse of 
Asahel to Bethelem, in order that it might be 
interred in the ancestral tomb, and thence they 
repaired to Hebron. Abner and his followers 
crossed the Jordan and went to Mahanaim. But 
a tragical destiny was pending over the house of 
Saul. Abner had cast his glances in the direction 
of Rizpah, the beautiful slave of Saul, who dwelt 
in Mahanaim with her two sons. Although Ish- 
bosheth allowed his general many privileges, he yet 
could not permit him to entertain hopes of winning 
his father's widow, as this disclosed his intention of 
striving to obtain the throne. Abner feeling himself 
slighted by the rebuke he received, reproached 
this mockery of a king with his ingratitude, and 
turning away from him, made a secret agreement 
with David, by which he intended to secure him 
the homage of all the tribes. In return for this 
service he probably stipulated that he should retain 
his office of commander-in-chief of the Israelite 
tribes. David gladly entertained his proposition, 
but as a security of this treaty, he demanded that 
his favourite wife Michal, who had been torn from 
him by Saul and married to a Benjamite, should 
be restored to him. Ishbosheth himself no doubt 
saw the justice of this condition, and did not per- 
ceive in it any evil intention towards himself. On 
this, Abner, leaving the king, under the pretext of 
obtaining MichaFs separation from her husband, 
entered the Benjamite territory ; compelled Phaltiel 



(iMichal's husband), to give up his wife, whom he 
followed with many tears, till Abner's angry threats 
compelled him to turn back in sorrow, and David 
recovered the beloved wife of his youth. Abner 
then wandered about amongst the tribes trying to 
obtain secret adherents for David. Many Israelites 
no doubt privately wished that the luckless civil 
war might cease, with the subjection of the king of 
Judah ; even some of the Benjamites were not 
averse to a union. Attended by twenty trusty 
followers whom he had secured for David, Abner 
secretly entered Hebron ; David had succeeded in 
sending away Joab and his brothers (the distrustful 
and jealous sons of Zeruiah) on a predatory expedi- 
tion. During their absence, David personally 
arranged with Abner and his twenty followers as to 
the manner in which the elders of the tribes should 
be won over to his side, and how the dethronement of 
Ishbosheth should then be carried into effect. Abner 
had already left Hebron in order to call upon the 
elders of the tribes to follow his example and do 
homage to the king of Judah. When Joab and 
his people returned from their expedition, they 
heard the astonishing intelligence that Abner, the 
enemy of David's house, had been received and per- 
mitted to depart in full favour, while Joab found 
that the king had made a secret treaty behind 
his back. As it seemed to him inevitable that 
he must be the victim of such a compact, he 
quickly decided on his course, and sent messengers 
after Abner, who returned. Joab and Abishai lay in 
wait for Abner at the gates of Hebron, and Abner 
not expecting them, or not having been warned 
against them, was felled to the earth by their 
swords. David felt the death of Abner acutely. 
The man who alone was able and willing to obtain 
for him the adhesion of all the tribes by peaceful 
measures was thus cut off on the eve of the realisa- 
tion of his plan and foully murdered. David was 

VOL. I. I 


placed in an awkward position. In order to destroy 
any suspicion which might be felt, David gave full 
vent to his sincere grief at Abner's loss. He com- 
manded a grand, imposing funeral in Hebron for 
Israel's fallen hero, ordered all his followers to 
attend the funeral-procession and accompanied it 
himself, and whilst in tearful grief he wrote an 
elegiac psalm of which the commencement has been 
preserved, which made a powerful impression on all 
hearers. All burst into tears and were convinced 
of the sincerity of his sorrow by the manner in 
which he recited his threnode of mourning. David, 
on the other hand, feared to demand an ex- 
planation from the sons of Zeruiah or to reproach 
them with their conduct ; he could understand 
their motives. In the circle of his intimates alone 
he uttered bitter complaints of them ; ** Know that a 
great prince in Israel has fallen to-day." 

The news of Abner's murder made a deep im- 
pression on Ishbosheth. He had no knowledge of 
his fallen general's treacherous league with David, 
and he therefore deeply mourned the death of a 
hero whom he supposed to be faithful, and whose 
loss seemed to be irreparable, for he considered 
Abner as the chief support of his throne. 

After Ishbosheth' s death the kingdom of the ten 
tribes naturally fell to David. He had also ad- 
herents of long standing, who remembered his 
warlike deeds against the Philistines in Saul's time, 
and who honoured him as the chosen one of God, 
through His prophet Samuel. Others had been 
won over to his side by Abner. Even those who 
took offence at David's league with the enemies 
of Israel, could not hide from themselves the con- 
sideration that no choice was left them except to 
do him homage. The Benjamites also acknow- 
ledged him, but with anger they could hardly con- 
ceal. David's inmost wish was now realised ; from 
having been the ruler of a little insignificant 


tribe he had become, after many obstacles and 
troubles, the king of all Israel. The breach between 
the houses of Judah and Israel was healed for the 
time being, and all seemed favourable to him. 
The priesthood and prophets did not, as with Saul, 
take up a hostile attitude towards him, but joined 
with heart and soul in his cause. A descendant 
of the house of Eli, named Abiathar, who had 
shared David's troubles, belonged to his court; 
and the other prophets copied the example of one 
who had been anointed by Samuel, and who be- 
longed to that great man's circle of disciples. The 
prophet Gad also belonged to the court; and 
another prophet of the time named Nathan, was 
to a certain extent the keeper of David's con- 
science. By his priestly followers he was thus 
encouraged in all his undertakings, and in fact 
everything in the government of the interior con- 
duced to level the way for him. But his foreign 
relations occasioned him great difficulties, which 
had to be overcome before he could rule as an in- 
dependent king. 

In the first place, David was bound to break 
with the Philistines if he wished to be free to win 
back the love of his people. He had to prepare him- 
self for a fierce warfare with his former auxiliaries. 
But he did not immediately commence hostilities 
with them ; they were too powerful for him. He 
wished first to free himself from other bonds. In 
the midst of the Benjamite territory was an en- 
closure, which had remained in the possession of 
the Jebusites, because the Israelites, on their entry 
into the land, had not conquered it. This high 
place, ZiON, was rendered inaccessible on both 
sides by narrow valleys and artificial fortifications. 
The most impenetrable quarter was the south, 
where the rocky side of the hill rose almost in a 
straight line from an abyss below. From this 
mountain fortress the Jebusites ruled the entire sur- 



rounding territory, and felt themselves secure from 
all intruders. They appear to have lived in a state 
of peace with the surrounding Benjamites and 
Judseans, as even Saul did not disturb them in 
the possession of their territory. David, however, 
considered it more to his interest to obtain pos- 
session of this citadel of Zion before commencing 
hostilities with the Philistines. He therefore resolved 
to storm the citadel and overcome its defenders. 
As soon as the Jebusites found all opposition 
useless they sued for peace, which was granted 
them by David. They were allowed to remain 
in their city, but not in the fortress ; he permitted 
them to settle down in the east of the town, on 
Mount Moriah. This victory, which appeared so 
difficult, and was, in fact, so easy to obtain, had 
begun with the sneering remark about the blind 
and the lame, which gave rise to a proverb. 

After the conquest of Mount Zion, David removed 
his capital from Hebron to that city, and it was 
henceforth known as the town of David. The 
whole city received a new name, Jerusalem {Jerii- 
skalayim), the meaning of which is not known, and 
it thus lost its old name of Jebus. Hither David 
removed with his warriors with their families, and 
his followers. The spot where the bravest soldiers 
had their dwellings was called after them the 
house of the brave {Bet/i-/ia-Gib5orwi). Such was 
the beginning of the city which since then, and for 
centuries, has been known as the ''holy.'* The 
choice of this spot as a capital was a fortunate 
chance, as circumstances soon showed. Certainly 
Shechem would have made a better metropolis, on 
account of its position in the midst of the tribes 
and the fruitful territory around it. But David 
found it impossible to move his dwelling to the 
town of the Ephraimites. The inhabitants were 
not especially well disposed towards him, and they 
were also jealous that the half-savage king, who 


Sprang from Judah, should prescribe laws to them. 
He required a secure retreat for his tribe, and this 
he could have in Jerusalem, which was situated 
on the boundaries of Benjamin and Judah, and 
which would serve as a protection against the 
incursions of the other tribes. The land on which 
the new capital was erected was not sterile, though 
it could bear no comparison with the part in which 
Shechem lay. In the valleys flowed everlasting 
springs, the springs of Siloah and En-Rogel in the 
south, of Gibeon in the west ; so that in the dry 
season the town and fields were always supplied with 
water. On three sides Jerusalem is surrounded by 
a range of hills which protect and embellish it. On 
the east is a high watershed (2,724 feet). Mount 
Olivet, so named from the olive trees which cover 
it. In the south the hills are not so lofty, and the 
valley dividing them from the city is narrower. 
The valley is that of Henna (Ge-henna), which 
was thus named after an individual or a family, 
and which becoming but too celebrated later on, 
supplied another appellation for hell {Gehenna). 
On the west the summits are also low, and hardly 
to be called hills. On the north, the hills form 
into a gentle slope. By these hills and valleys, 
which form natural walls and ditches, Jerusalem 
is sheltered on three sides. Within Jerusalem, in 
the high plateau and between the three valleys, 
on the east, south, and west, there are three ranges 
of hills rising above the plain. On the west is 
Zion the loftiest summit. On the north is a hill 
of no great height ; and opposite the third is Mount 
Moriah, which has an offshoot towards ..the south, 
called " Ophel." Moriah, though much less lofty 
than Zion, was destined to eclipse it and all the 
greatest heights on earth in importance. 

The Philistines could not ignore the fact that the 
choice of David as king of the entire Israelite nation 
had not only greatly loosened the bond which united 


him to them, but that it must in future force him to 
take up a hostile attitude towards themselves. They 
did not however wish to break with him. When the 
conquest of Jebus (Jerusalem) took place, they con- 
sidered the fact of his removing his dwelling there 
as a premonitory sign. They hastened to give him 
battle before he should have time to arm the 
available troops of the various tribes. A Philistine 
band pressed forward across the plain into the 
mountains and approached Jerusalem. Whether 
David was surprised at their attack or whether he 
wished to keep the scene of action apart from his 
capital is unknown, but he left it with his troops 
and moved southwards to Adullam. Encouraged 
by this retreat, the Philistines pressed on to 
Bethlehem, David's birth-place, where they en- 
camped and sent out predatory expeditions to 
plunder the land of Judah. David delayed attacking 
the Philistines, his army was probably too weak, 
and he expected reinforcements from the tribes. In 
order to stimulate his warriors to trials of strensfth 
during the pause before the decisive contest, David 
expressed the wish to drink out of a well in Beth- 
lehem, which was in the possession of the Philistines. 
Three of the chief warriors, Jesheboam, Eleazar and 
Shammah, immediately set out against the Philis- 
tines, daringly drew water from the well and brought 
it to David at Adullam. David however, would 
not drink the water because his warriors had been 
obliged to risk their lives for it. He had only put 
them to the test. At length the Israelite troops 
went forth to meet the Philistines and utterly routed 
them at Mount Baal-Perazim. This victory was 
so decisive that it was compared with Joshua's at 
Gibeon. In their hurried flight, the Philistines left 
behind them their idols which were burnt by the 
Israelites. The enemy did not, however, relinquish 
their intention of subduing David and his people. 
They made repeated attacks, once in the valley 


Rephaim, another time as far as Eplies-dammim in 
Terebinthea ; David's troops and warriors performed 
miracles of bravery, they defeated their enemies 
and pursued them as far as Gaza. David did not 
content himself with mere defence, but he de- 
termined on attacking the Philistines. The only 
way to procure peace for his people was to make 
constant war with or to subdue the small but power- 
ful nation which existed by incursions and warfare. 
He therefore proceeded with his soldiers as far as 
Gath, the former capital of the Philistines, which 
was situated nearest to the land of Judaea. The 
Philistines made a verv obstinate resistance and 
violent conflicts arose, in which David's heroes had 
ample opportunity for distinguishing themselves. 
It appears that the Philistines suggested according 
to their custom that there should be duels with the 
remnant of their Rephaitic giants. Times had 
altered, however, and whilst in David's youth the 
Israelite troops had not possessed a single soldier 
who would accept Goliath's challenge, there were 
now more than thirty who burned with eagerness to 
take part in the duel. On this occasion the warriors 
entreated the king not to expose himself in battle, 
and in fact, not to go to war himself, in order that 
" the light of Israel " might not be extinguished. 

At length the Israelites succeeded in utterly 
routing the Philistines so that they were obliged 
to surrender their capital Gath and its villages 
and surrounding territories to their enemies. The 
town at which the son of Jesse first appeared, en- 
treating help in the guise of an imbecile, thus 
fell before him. One of the thirty warriors, Sib- 
bechai of Hushah, killed the giant Sippai of Gath; 
another man from Bethlehem named Elhanan, 
killed the brother of Goliath, named Lahmi, who 
had sallied forth to the contest like Goliath laden 
with armour. David's nephew Jonathan killed a 
giant who had an extra finger on both his hands 


and an extra toe on his feet. David himself was 
once, when exhausted from the long struggle, in 
imminent danger of being overcome by the giant 
Ishbi of Gath ; Abishai, however, Joab's brother, 
hurried to his aid, defeated the giant and killed 
three hundred Philistines with his spear. The 
overthrow of the Philistines was a point of the 
greatest importance, it ensured lasting peace and 
freedom of action to the people. None of the other 
enemies of Israel were so greatly in its way. David 
did not push his victory further, he left the im- 
portant cities of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod and 
Ekron undisturbed, and even the town of Gath 
he appears later on to have restored to its king. 
No doubt he had reasons for not going to great 
extremes with the Philistines. It appeared to him 
better to rule them as a tributary power than to drive 
them to a war of desperation. 

By his victory over the Philistines, David at- 
tained great importance and respect in the eyes of 
the neighbouring peoples. Hiram, the king who 
had extended his power from Zidon to Tyre, 
despatched ambassadors to David, offering to 
establish an alliance with him. He also offered to 
send supplies of cedar wood and building materials 
for adorning the new capital of Jerusalem In a fitting 
manner. He rejoiced at the subjection of the 
Philistines, probably because they would no longer 
be able to cast a wistful eye on the Phoenician 
coasts. It was a matter of great interest to the 
king of Tyre to secure an alliance with David in 
order that the Phoenician caravans and their goods 
might have free passage and protection when they 
passed backwards and forwards from Phoenicia to 
Egypt. David willingly accepted his advances, 
and thus a sort of friendship arose between him and 
Hiram. He accepted Hiram's offer in order to 
consolidate the capital which had been founded by 
him, and to obtain materials for adorning it with 


architectural works. Hiram sent building materials 
and builders, so that Jerusalem might vie in outward 
appearance with the other capitals of those times. 
In the first place Jerusalem had to be fortified, 
especially on the north where it was most liable to 
be attacked. The hill of Zion, or City of David, 
was, in fact, not sufficiently extensive to contain all 
the inhabitants who had already settled there, and 
it had become necessary to take measures to provide 
for the increasing population. For this reason, 
they included in its boundaries the hill which lay to 
the north of the town. Between Zion and this 
hillock ran a narrow valley. The northern eleva- 
tion of the town was called Millo (border), it was 
considered the newer quarter of the town, in 
comparison with the more ancient city of David. 
Mount Moriah and its offshoot Ophel remained 
outside the circuit of the city, and in those days was 
not considered as belonging to Jerusalem, but was 
inhabited by the surviving remnant of the Jebusites. 
David also had built a palace of cedar, the wood for 
which was procured from Lebanon. To Joab and 
the other important personages of David's court, 
were assigned roomy and well-built houses, which 
were not constructed of cedar wood, but of cypress. 
David further sought to make Jerusalem the 
centrepoint of religious life, in order that the eyes 
of the whole nation might be turned towards it. 
He therefore took measures to remove the ark of 
the sanctuary from the house of Abinadab at 
Kirjath-Jearim, where it had remained since its 
recovery from the hands of the Philistines. A 
splendid tent was built for its reception in the city 
of David. David had vowed not to remain in 
his house, nor to rest on his bed, nor to close his 
eyes in sleep until he had found a resting-place 
for the ark of the covenant. Accompanied by a 
great concourse the king repaired to Kirjath-Jearim 
(which lay at about an hour's journey north-west 


of Jerusalem), and many Levites followed in the 
king's train. The ark of the sanctuary was 
placed on a new carriage drawn by bullocks, and 
led by two sons of Abinadab. Choirs of Levites 
sang hymns and accompanied themselves with 
stringed instruments, and David also assisted 
them to the best of his power. An accident, 
however, occurred on the road, Uzzah, a priest 
who walked next to the chariot, suddenly fell 
down dead. David was so shocked at this cata- 
strophe, that he hesitated to carry the ark of 
the covenant into Jerusalem. He feared that it 
might bring misfortune on the people, as it had 
done in the case of the Philistines. It was there- 
fore placed in a house for three months, and, 
seeing that no evil came of it, David determined 
on making a second attempt at bringing it to 
Mount Zion. On this occasion, however, it was 
not placed on a chariot, but was carried by Levites. 
Followed by a mass of people, and amidst shouts 
of joy, blasts of trumpets, and dancing, the ark 
was conveyed to the tent appointed for it. The 
king himself, forgetful of [his dignity, sang and 
danced in exultation before the ark. His conduct 
called forth a rebuke from his wife Michal, who 
scoffingly charged him with behaving like a public 

As it had done in the case of Shiloh, the arrival 
of the Sanctuary raised Jerusalem to the dignity of 
a holy city. It was necessary to have a priest or 
priesthood in a place dedicated to moral culture. 
Abiathar, David's faithful follower in all his wan- 
derings, was, as a matter of course, raised to the 
office of High Priest to the sanctuary in Zion. 
There was, however, another high priest in Gibeon, 
whom Saul had placed there after the destruction 
of Eli's family in Nob. David could not entirely 
displace him, for such a course would have led to 
dissensions. He therefore confirmed his predeces- 


sor's appointment, and thus retained two high 
priests in office at the same time — Abiathar in 
Jerusalem, and Zadok in Gibeon. The foster-child, 
as he was, of the Levitical choir, a poet and 
musician, David (following Samuel's precedent) 
acted as might have been expected, in introducing 
choral singing into the solemn religious services. 
He also composed hymns of praise for special occa- 
sions, such as in the event of a victory over the 
enemy, or when his heart was filled with thankfulness 
at some happy consummation, and was thus inspired 
with poetical fervour. He has served as a model 
for this heartfelt and inspiring style of verse. 
Besides the royal psalmist there were other con- 
temporary poets and musicians, such as Asaph, 
Heman, a grandson of Samuel, and Jeduthun. 
Their descendants were the Asaphites and Kora- 
chites (Bene Korach), who are still named with 
David as the most famous composers of psalmic 
literature. David arranged that Asaph and his 
choir should lead the choral service at Jerusalem in 
the sanctuary, whilst his fellow-musicians Heman 
and Jeduthun, performed the same functions at 
the altar in Gibeon. Samuel's creation of a spi- 
ritual divine service was thus firmly established 
by David ; and though he praised sacrificial rites, 
he also introduced psalms into part of the services, 
as being more adapted to elevate and purify the 
mind. At a time when poetry as an art, had 
hardly awakened amongst the other nations, it 
already occupied an important part in the divine 
services of Israel. 

In the same way as David was the actual founder 
of a sanctifying divine worship, he was also the 
founder of a system of government which was 
based on the justice of the Creator. He presided 
at the tribunal, listened untiringly to the disputes 
of individuals or of tribes, and administered justice 
with strict impartiality. His throne was not only 


the high seat of government and power, it was also 
that of order and justice. Succeeding generations 
pronounced David the ideal of kingship. His 
throne was looked upon as the prop of justice, 
and his sceptre as the guide by which to obtain 
inward peace. Jerusalem was raised by him to an 
ideal city, where a pure worship of God was ob- 
served, and justice, in its most exalted form, had 
found its resting place on earth. A later psalmist 
says — 

" Jerusalem, that art builded as a city that is compact together, 
Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord ; 
For a testimony unto Israel, 
To give thanks unto the name of the Lord. 
For there are set thrones for judgment, 
The thrones of the house of David." 

Psalm cxxii. 3—5. 

Jerusalem was considered a faithful citadel — full of 
righteousness — where justice had its dwelling-place. 
These circumstances, the deliverance from the yoke 
of the Philistines, the universal safety, and the 
establishment of justice under David's rule, rendered 
him the favourite of the people, as he had been in 
his youth. A feeling of attachment to him prevailed, 
and as it was of spontaneous growth, he had not 
to gain it by force. 

David partly altered the internal arrangements of 
the country. The constitution of the tribes remained 
intact. The elders represented the families, and the 
head of the oldest family was also the prince of his 
tribe (Neszi-Beth-Ab). The princes were the re- 
presentatives of the tribes before the king. The 
freedom of the tribes, or rather their free action, 
was limited in regard to the arrangements for battle. 
Each tribe, in case of war was bound to contribute 
a number of capable soldiers (over twenty years of 
age) as its complement to the national army {Zaba). 
A special officer was appointed over this contin- 
gent, who was called the enumerator {Sop/ier), or 
the leader of the list. He wrote down on a list the 


names of the men fit for active service, looked to 
their enrolment, and compelled the attendance of 
all defaulters. This duty David had delegated to a 
man named Shavsha, from whom it passed on to 
his heir. As soon as the army was assembled it 
was commanded by the field officer (Sar-ha-Zabd) 
who at this conjuncture was Joab. David also 
supported a troop of mercenaries whom he engaged 
from the heathen soldiery, the Cherethites who came 
from a territory belonging to the Philistine dominions, 
and the Pelethites of whose origin we are uncertain. 
Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, one of the bravest of 
David's soldiers, was their commander. David also 
appointed a special officer on whom devolved the 
duty of reporting to the king all important or 
apparently important events. He was called the 
reporter (Maskhir). As favouritism is inseparable 
from kingly will, David also had a favourite (named 
Hushai Arkhi) on whom he could rely under all 
circumstances, especially in such cases as were not 
fit for the general public. He was also fortunate in 
having an adviser at hand, who could give suitable 
counsel in various emergencies ; his name was 
Ahithophel, and his birthplace was the Judaean 
town of Gilo. At that time his advice was currently 
said to be as infallible as the oracles uttered by the 
lips of the high priest. This wise and overwise 
councillor of David was destined to exercise a great 
influence over his royal master in more advanced 
life. At one time David's judicial conscience was 
put to a severe test. A famine of long duration 
overspread the land on account of a two years' 
drought. Distress was at its highest pitch when 
at the commencement of the third year no rain had 
fallen, and the people turned to the king for 
help. This misfortune, in which the entire country 
shared, was interpreted as the God-sent retribution 
for some secret and unknown sin. David therefore 
inquired of the priest Abiathar for what sin expia- 


tion was needed, and the answer came **on account 
of Saul and his ruthless persecution of the Gibeon- 
ites." David then sent to the remnant of the 
Gibeonites and inquired of them what atonement 
they desired. Not satisfied with an expiatory sum of 
money, they demanded that seven descendants of 
Saul should be hanged in Gibeah-Saul. The demand 
of the Gibeonites seemed just, for according to the 
usages of the time the shedding of blood and the 
broken oath could only be washed out by blood. 
With a heavy heart David had to comply with the 
demand of the Gibeonities and satisfy the desire of 
the nation. The two sons of Saul's concubine, 
Rizpah, and his grandson the son of his daughter 
Merab were sought out, handed over to the 
Gibeonites, and killed by them in cold blood, in 
Gibeah-Saul, the town in which their father had 
won a crown. 

David only spared Mephibosheth, the son of 
Jonathan, for he remembered the oath made to his 
friend, that he would always protect his descendants. 
The corpses of the seven victims were to remain 
on the gallows until rain should fall from the 
heavens, but it was long ere the rainfall. It was 
then that the beautiful Rizpah, for whose sake 
Abner had quarrelled with Ishbosheth, showed of 
what a mother's love is capable. In order to prevent 
her sons' corpses from being devoured by eagles 
and jackals, she made her couch on the rocks on 
which the bodies were exposed, and guarded them 
with a watchful eye through the heat of day. Nor 
in the night did she relax her vigilance, but con- 
tinued her work of scaring away the beasts of prey 
from the dead. When at length the rain fell in the 
autumn, the seven bodies were taken down, and at 
David's command the last honours were bestowed 
on them. He also seized this opportunity to trans- 
port the remains of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh- 
Gilead and to bury them, together with the remains 


of their kindred, in the family grave of the House 
of Kish at Dela. It appears that on this occasion 
David caused his deeply touching lament for the 
death of Saul and of Jonathan, to be repeated in 
order to express publicly how nearly the destruction 
of the royal House of Benjamin had affected him, 
He directed that the elegy should be learnt by 
heart. Jonathan's surviving son, Mephibosheth (who 
had been living in the house of a much-respected 
man on the other side of the Jordan) was brought 
to Jerusalem, and David received him in his own 
house — placed him at his own table, and treated 
him as one of his own sons. David also bestowed 
on him Saul's lands in the tribe of Benjamin, and 
entrusted the management of them to one of SauPs 
slaves, named Ziba. Notwithstanding this, the 
Benjamites accused David of destroying the House 
of Saul, and of having only preserved Mephibosheth 
who was lame and unfit for rule. When David's 
fortunes were at their lowest the embittered Benjam- 
ites cast stones at him. 



War with Moabites — Insult offered by king of the Ammonites — War 
with Ammonites — Their Defeat — Battle of Helam — Attack of 
Hadadeser — Defeat of Aramaeans — Acquisition of Damascus — 
War with the Idumasans — Conquest of the town of Rabbah — 
Defeat of Idumasans — Conquered races obliged to pay tribute 
— Bathsheba— Death of Uriah the Hittite— Parable of Nathan 
— Birth of Solomon (1033) — Misfortunes of David — Absalom — 
Wise Woman of Tekoah — Reconciliation of David and Absalom 

— Numbering of the Troops — Pestilence breaks out in Israel — 
Absalom's Rebellion — Murder of Amasa— Sheba's Insurrection 

— David and Nathan — Adonijah. 

1035 — 1015. 

When David had completed two decades of his 
reign, he became involved in several wars which 
withdrew him from the peaceful pursuits of regu- 
lating the internal affairs of the country and of 
attending to the administration of justice. These 
wars with distant nations were forced on him against 
his will, and gave him an immense accession of 
power and a surprising influence over the people. 
David first began a fierce warfare with the Moabites, 
who dwelt on the opposite side of the Dead Sea. 
With them he had been on friendly terms during 
his wanderings, and amongst them he had met 
with a hospitable reception. It is probable that the 
Moabites had ousted from their possession the 
Reubenites who lived near, and that David had 
hurried to their rescue. It must in any case have 
been a war of retribution, for after his victory 
David treated the prisoners with a seventy which 
he had not displayed towards any of the other 
nations whom he conquered. The Moabite cap- 
tives were fettered and cast side by side on the 
ground close together, then measured with a rope, 

cH.viii. hanun's insult. 129 

and every second division was killed, whilst one 
division was spared. The whole land of Moab 
was subdued and David imposed a yearly tribute, 
to be sent to Jerusalem. Some time afterwards, 
when Nahash king of the Ammonites died, David 
who had been on friendly terms with him, sent 
an embassy to his son Hanun, with messages of 
condolence. This attention only roused suspicion 
in Rabbah-Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites. 
The new king's counsellors impressed him with the 
idea that David had sent his ambassadors as spies 
to Rabbah, in order to discover their weakness, to 
conquer them, and to deliver them over to the same 
fate that had befallen the Moabites. Hanun was 
so carried away by his suspicions that he offered an 
insult to the king of Israel, which could not be 
passed over unnoticed. He obliged the ambas- 
sadors, whose persons, according to the laws of 
nations, were inviolable, to have their beards 
shaved off on one side and their garments cut off 
in the middle, and then hunted them out of the 
country. The ambassadors were ashamed to 
appear at Jerusalem in this guise, but they in- 
formed David of the occurrence. He immediately 
prepared himself for battle and the soldiers were 
called together; the troops of warriors girded 
their loins, and the Cherethite and Pelethite mer- 
cenaries sallied forth with their heroic leader 
Benaiah at their head. Hanun, who feared the 
war strength of the Israelites, looked around for 
help, and engaged some hireling Aramaeans, who 
lived in the mountains of Hermon, as far away as 
the banks of the Euphrates. Hadadeser, king of 
Zobah on the Euphrates, contributed the greatest 
number — 20,opo men. David did not personally 
conduct this war, but left the supreme command 
with the careful and reliable Joab. Having led 
the Israelite army across the Jordan, Joab divided 
it into two bodies. With the one he attacked the 

VOL. I. K 


Aramaeans, the other he left under the command of 
his brother Abishai. He aroused the enthusiasm of 
his army with a few inspiring words: *' Let us fight 
bravely — for our people and the city of our God ; 
God will do what will seem good unto Him." Joab 
then dashed at the Aramaeans and put them to 
flight. On this, the Ammonites were seized with 
such fear that they withdrew from the field and 
took shelter behind the walls of their capital. It 
was a most successful onslaught. Joab hurried 
to Jerusalem to report to the king, and to lay 
before him a plan by which the Aramaeans might 
be totally annihilated, and any future interference 
on their part prevented. David placed himself 
at the head of the victorious army, which, after 
receiving reinforcements, had occupied itself ^with 
ravaging the Ammonite territories, and he pur- 
sued the Ammonites on the opposite side of the 
Jordan. King Hadadeser, on his part, also sent 
fresh troops to the aid of his defeated forces, but in 
a battle at Helam, the Aramaean army was again 
defeated, and its general, Shobach, fell in the en- 
counter, and the vassals of the mighty Hadadeser 
then endeavoured to make peace with David. Toi 
(or Tou) the king of Hamath, had been at war 
with Hadadeser, and he now sent his son Joram to 
David with presents congratulating him on the 
victory over their common foe. David followed up 
his successes until he reached the capital of king 
Hadadeser, situated on the banks of the Euphrates. 
The Aramaeans were then defeated for the third 
time ; their war chariots and soldiers could not 
withstand the attack of the Israelite army. The 
extensive district of Zobah, which had been tribu- 
tary to various princes, was divided into several 
parts. The king of Damascus, an ally of the king 
of Zobah, was also defeated by David, and the ancient 
town of Damascus henceforth belonged to the king 
of Israel. David placed land-overseers in all the 


Aramaean territories, from Hermon to the Eu- 
phrates, in order to enforce the payment of tribute 
by the inhabitants. David and his army must have 
been astonished at the wonderful result which they 
had achieved. It rendered the king and his army 
objects of fear both far and wide. Meanwhile the 
king of the Ammonites had escaped punishment 
for his insults to the ambassadors of Israel. In con- 
sequence of the campaign against the Aramaeans, 
which lasted nearly a year, the Israelite army had 
been unable to carry on the war against Hanun. 
It was only after the great events narrated above 
that David's circumstances again enabled him to 
send his forces, under Joab, against Ammon. Yet 
another war arose out of the hostilities against 
this nation. The Idumseans, on the south of the 
Dead Sea, had also assisted the Ammonites by 
sending troops to their aid, and these had now to 
be humiliated. David deputed his second general, 
Abishai, Joab's brother, to direct the campaign 
against the Idumaeans. Joab was meantime en- 
gaged in a long contest with the Ammonites, 
who had secured themselves behind the strong 
walls of their fortified capital, and were con- 
tinually making raids on their foes. The Israelite 
army had no battering rams, nor instruments fit for 
conducting a siege. Their only alternative was to 
storm the heights of the city, and in their attempts 
to carry out this plan they were often repelled by 
the bowmen on the walls. At length Joab suc- 
ceeded, after repeated attacks, in gaining possession 
of one part of the town — the city of waters ; he re- 
ported this victory to David in all haste, and urged 
him to repair to the camp in order to lead in 
person the attack on the other quarters, so 
that the honour of the conquest might be entirely 
his own. When David arrived at Rabbah with fresh 
troops, he succeeded in subduing the whole town, 
and in obtaining a rich booty. David himself as- 

K 2 




sumed the golden diadem, richly adorned with 
precious stones, which had heretofore crowned the 
head of the Ammonite idol Malchom (Milchom). It 
appears that David did not destroy the city of 
Rabbah, as he had intended. He merely condemned 
the male inhabitants or the prisoners to labour, 
such as was done by slaves, to polish stones, thresh 
with iron flails, or hew wood with the axe, and to 
prepare tiles for roofs. He treated the other pri- 
soners from the various towns in a similar manner. 
Hanun, the original cause of the war, who had 
so deeply insulted David, was either killed or 
driven out of the kingdom. In his stead David ap- 
pointed his brother Shobi as king. Meanwhile 
Abishai had been engaged in a war against the 
Idumaean king, and had utterly routed him in the 
Valley of Salt — probably in the neighbourhood of 
the Rock-salt Mountains, on the Dead Sea. Eigh- 
teen thousand Idumaeans are said to have fallen. 
The rest probably submitted ; and for this reason 
David contented himself with placing excise officers 
and a garrison over them, as he had done 
in Damascus and the other Aramaean countries. 
The Idumaeans however seem later on to have re- 
voltied against the Israelite garrison, as well as 
against the officers who collected the tribute, and 
to have massacred them. Joab therefore repaired 
to Idumsea, caused the murdered Israelites to be 
buried, and the Idumaean men and boys to be exe- 
cuted. He was occupied in this war of destruction 
during half a year, and so thoroughly was the task 
executed that only a few of the male sex could save 
themselves by flight. Amongst them was a son or 
grandson of the Idumaean king. 

By these decisive victories in the west over the 
Philistines, in the south over the Idumaeans, in the 
east (on the opposite side of the Jordan) over the 
Moabites and Ammonites, and in the north over 
the Aramaeans, David had now raised the power 


of Israel to an unexpected greatness. Though 
at the commencement of his reign when he 
was first acknowledged king of all Israel, the 
boundaries of the country had been comprised 
between Dan and Beersheba, he now ruled the 
wide-spread territory from the river of Egypt 
(Rhinokolura-El-Arish) as far as the Euphrates, or 
from Gaza to Thapsacus (on the Euphrates). The 
nations thus subdued were obliged to send yearly 
tokens of homage, to pay tribute and perhaps also 
to send slaves to assist in building and other heavy 

These wars and victories displayed David's 
great mind in a better light than when he was 
weighed down by oppression. Strong and de- 
termined as he was in every undertaking in which 
the honour and safety of his people were involved, 
he remained modest and humble without a spark of 
presumption after success had been attained. He 
erected no monument to commemorate his victories 
as had been done by Saul, he rather resembled his 
general, Joab, who was imbued with the thought 
that to God alone was to be assigned the victory. 
The faith in God to which David had given 
utterance when he prepared himself for the duel 
with the Rephaite Goliath (i Samuel xvii. 47), he 
preserved in all great contests. David worked out 
this guiding thought in a psalm which he pro- 
bably chanted before the ark at the close of the 
war, and in which he gives a retrospect of his entire 
past life. 

In consequence of their great victories two firm 
convictions were impressed on the minds of the 
people, and these actuated and possessed them in 
all times to come. The one idea occurs in various 
forms, '* A king cannot escape by the multitude of 
his army, nor a warrior by his power ; vain is the 
horse for safety." God alone decides the fate of 
war, brings it to a close, gives victory or defeat, 


and to Him it is equally easy to conquer with 
few or with many. The other idea, in closest con- 
nection with it, is that *' God always leads the 
armies of Israel if they go forth to glorify His name 
or to save His people, and that He leads them to 
victory." The God of Israel was, in accordance 
with this idea, designated by a special name which 
fully expresses this thought ; He was named the 
God of battles (Adonai Zebaoth), the God who gave 
victory unto Israel in their conflicts. The King 
Zebaoth was invoked before ever}^ battle, and the 
Israelite troops went forth with the firm conviction 
that they could never be defeated. This confidence, 
certainly, worked wonders in the course of time. 

Severely as David treated the idols of the nations 
whom he had conquered, he behaved with propor- 
tionate leniency to the conquered idolators. The 
Moabites alone were barbarously punished and the 
Ammonites were enslaved, but the other conquered 
races were merely obliged to pay tribute. The 
former must have sinned deeply and have deserved 
a heavy punishment. The foreign races who 
colonised the country were not molested, thus we 
find Jebusites in Jerusalem, and Canaanites and 
Hittites in other parts of the country. Thus also 
many natives and strangers who were not of 
Israelite descent enrolled themselves in his corps of 
warriors or led their own troops in his service. The 
Hittite Uriah one of David's thirty heroes, who was 
destined to be involved in David's fate, was deeply 
attached to the Israelite nation. 

The joy at their great achievement remained, 
however, but for a short time untroubled. The 
happiness of a state, like that of individuals, 
is l3ut seldom of long duration, and days of sun- 
shine must be followed by intervals of darkness 
to prevent the enervation of the national vigour. 
By one false step David lost not only his own 
inward contentment and peace, but shook the 


very foundations of that state which it had cost 
him such exertions to establish. When David 
had returned home from the Aramaean war, and was 
resting from the fatigues of battle which Joab 
and his army were still undergoing in the land of 
Ammon, he beheld from the roof of his palace a 
beautiful woman, who was bathing. She was the 
wife of one of his most faithful warriors (the 
Hittite, Uriah), and her name was Bathsheba. 
The houses of the warriors were built on Zion in 
the vicinity of the king's palace, and thus he came 
to see Bathsheba. Carried away by his passion 
he sent messengers to command her to repair to the 
palace, and Bathsheba obeyed. When David, 
some time after, found that this violation of the 
marriage tie had not been without consequences, 
his only thought was to save his honour, and thus 
involved himself in deeper sin. He commanded 
Uriah to return to Jerusalem from the camp at 
Rabbah. He received him in a friendly manner, 
and gave him permission to rest, and enjoy the 
company of his wife. Uriah, however, made no 
use of this permission, but remained with the guard, 
who slept in the entrance of the king's palace and 
protected his person. This conduct was displeas- 
ing to David. He therefore tried to find some 
safe quarrel, and this led him into the commission 
of sin. As he could not save his honour, he de- 
termined that Uriah should lose his life. David 
therefore sent him to the camp to Joab with a 
letter, saying that the bearer should be placed in 
a post of extreme danger — nay, of certain death — 
during one of the forays of the Ammonites. This 
command was fulfilled, and Uriah fell, struck dead 
by an Ammonite arrow. Bathsheba fulfilled the 
customary time of mourning for her husband, and 
was then received into the palace by David as his 

In every other State the court circle would have 


discussed a king's fancy with bated breath; it 
would hardly have been blamed, and certainly 
it would have been soon forgotten. But in Israel 
there was an eye which could pierce this factitious 
darkness, and a conscience which declaimed in a 
loud voice against the crimes of even a royal 
wrong-doer. The prophetic body possessed this 
clear sight which never failed, and this conscience 
that never slept. Its first duty consisted in por- 
traying and branding sin in the deepest colours, 
and not merely in screening and passing it over, 
and thus permitting it to become a matter of 

David no doubt believed that Bathsheba alone 
was cognisant of his sin, and Joab the only accessory 
to the plot against Uriah's life. But from this 
error he was suddenly roused, and the awakening 
was terrible. The prophet Nathan one day came 
to David and requested permission to bring a cause 
of complaint under his notice. He then related the 
following parable : — In a great city there lived a rich 
man, who possessed great numbers of flocks and 
herds ; and near him lived a poor man who 
possessed but one little lamb which he had 
reared for himself One day, when a guest came 
to the rich man, he was told to kill one of his 
flock for the meal, but he stole the lamb of the poor 
man to feast his friend. On hearing this complaint 
David's sense of justice was aroused and he said 
indignantly that the heartless rich man deserved 
to die, or at least to pay the poor man many times 
the value of the lamb. Then the prophet replied, 
*^ Thou art that rich man ! " 

Any other king would have punished the moralist 
who had dared to speak the truth to a crowned 
head, to the representative of God on earth, the 
pupil of the prophet Samuel. David when the 
picture of his misdeeds was thus placed before 
him penitently answered, **Yes, I have sinned." 

CH. VIII. Nathan's parable. 137 

He certainly did not fail to offer up heartfelt 
prayers and to make atonement in order to entreat 
God's forgiveness. The child which was born 
died immediately, although David had worn himself 
away in prayers and fasting, entreating that its life 
might be spared. Bathsheba afterwards had a 
second son named Jedidiah, or Solomon (1033), who 
became the favourite of his father. 

But though God pardoned the king for his 
heinous sin, humanity could not forgive him ; and 
this destroyed David's peace of mind. Bathsheba, 
the wife of Uriah, was the daughter of Eliam (one 
of David's warriors), and the granddaughter of his 
counsellor Ahithophel. The father and grandfather 
felt their honour disgraced through their daughter's 
sin, and could never forgive David for his share in 
it. It is true they kept silence and did not betray 
their hatred. Ahithophel especially nursed his 
vengeance in silence and only awaited an oppor- 
tunity to wreak it on the king. David did all in 
his power to appease them. He elevated Bathsheba 
to the rank of first queen, promised her secretly 
that her son should be his successor, and solemnly 
swore to fulfil this undertaking. He wished at any 
cost to make peace with Ahithophel whose advice 
he could not forego. Ahithophel, however, remained 
immoveable. Misfortune then befell the house of 
David which involved matters to a still greater 
extent, and robbed his remaining years of all tran- 
quillity. His eldest son Amnon had seduced his 
half-sister Tamar, and thereby aroused the fierce 
anger of her brother Absalom who determined to 
avenge her. Each of the king's sons, of whom 
David had six born in Hebron and eleven in Jeru- 
salem, when he attained manhood had his own 
house, household and lands. Absalom's lands and 
herds were situated at Baal-Hazor, not far from the 
capital. Thither he invited all the king's sons 
to the feast of sheep-shearing. Whilst they and 


their guests were enjoying- the feast and drinking 
freely, Absalom's servant at his master's command 
attacked Amnon and dealt him his death-blow. Ab- 
salom served a double purpose by this murder. He 
avenged the insult offered to his sister, and hoped 
to secure his own succession to the throne by ridding 
himself of his elder brother. The son of Abigail, 
the second in succession, was already dead, and so 
it seemed inevitable that he, as the third son, must 
succeed. That his son should be a fratricide was a 
terrible blow to the king, and one of too decided 
a nature for him to think it only the effect of a 
distrustful suspicion. 

David's first impulse was to seek out the son 
who had murdered his brother, and taken refuge 
with his grandfather, King Talmai, of Geshur, on 
the south-west boundary of Judaea. Even by force 
of arms he would have punished him as he deserved. 
But there were various influences at work against 
him, as in fact, since the affair with Bathsheba, 
intrigues had been rife at David's court. Joab was 
opposed to the succession of the last-born, Solomon, 
and was naturally on the side of Absalom the eldest 
surviving son. Ahithophel, David's infallible coun- 
sellor, also favoured Absalom's claim to the throne, 
because he could use him as a tool against his 
father. On the other hand, Adonijah, David's 
fourth son, advocated the infliction of condign 
punishment on Absalom. Adonijah thought his 
prospects of displacing the infant Solomon fairer 
than his chance with Absalom, who was not re- 
strained by any considerations whatsoever. If Absa- 
lom were punished for fratricide, Adonijah would be 
the next in succession. He and his mother Haggith 
might therefore have incensed David against 
Absalom, but Joab and Ahithophel were wiser, and 
exerted all the influence they possessed against the 
institution of warlike attempts upon him, or the 
grandfather whose protection he enjoyed. 


When David had at length decided on seeking or 
demanding the surrender of his guilty son (though 
he had been absent for three years), Joab employed 
a ruse to turn the king from his resolve. He sent 
for a woman living in the adjacent town of Tekoah, 
who had a reputation for talking convincingly and 
aptly. With her he devised a plan, in accordance 
with which she should depict in glowing colours the 
fearful case of a father who would kill his own son, 
one too who had not quite unjustifiably murdered 
his brother. The wise woman of Tekoah conse- 
quently appeared before the king in mourning 
garments, and as though invoking his mercy she 
called out in an entreating voice and with deep 
prostrations, Help ! O king, help ! The king, 
however, discovered the hidden point of her story, 
and the allusion to his own case, and he demanded 
an open answer from her as to whether Joab had 
not assisted her in her disguise and invention. 
When the woman of Tekoah had confessed the truth, 
the king sent for Joab, and assured him that he no 
longer entertained evil intentions against Absalom, 
and assigned him the task of conducting his son 
to Jerusalem. The woman of Tekoah had, in her 
sensible and clear manner, put it to him that to 
take revenge on his own son, would be an incon- 

Joab himself brought Absalom from Geshur to 
Jerusalem, but the latter was not permitted to ap- 
pear .before his father, but was obliged to remain 
solitary in his own house. By this means Joab 
unconsciously sowed the seeds of dissension in the 
house of David. Night and day, Absalom, in his 
loneliness and disgrace, brooded over the vile plan of 
deposing his father. But he dissembled in order to 
render himself safer. To this end it was absolutely 
necessary that a reconciliation should be effected. 
Joab, who earnestly desired peace between father and 
son, became the mediator, for David decided that 


having, during two years, exiled his son from his 
presence, he might now allow him to return. 
Absalom played to perfection the part of the 
penitent, obedient son at this meeting ; David then 
gave him a fatherly embrace and the reconciliation 
was complete. It was seven years since the death 
of Amnon, when Absalom's intrigues commenced. 
He must have had frequent meetings with Ahithophel 
and have followed his advice. He obtained chariots 
and horses from Egypt, procured a guard of fifty 
men, and displayed regal grandeur. He arose be- 
times in the morning, listened to disputes and found 
everyone's case just; he used to regret that the 
king would not listen to all, and would not give 
justice to all, and he hinted that were he judge no 
one should have to complain of difficulty in obtain- 
ing his dues. Absalom pursued this course for four 
years after the reconciliation with his father. He 
was the handsomest man of his times, he 
was nearly thirty, and in the full pride of his 
strength. His beautiful thick hair fell in waves 
over his neck and shoulders like the mane of a 
lion. He won the hearts of all who approached 
him by his affability. David was so blinded that 
he did not see how his crafty son alienated the 
affections of the people from their sovereign, whilst 
Absalom merely awaited a favourable opportunity to 
proceed against his father, to dethrone him and rob 
him of all power. This opportunity soon offered 

It appears that David was occupied in the last 
decade of his reign with a comprehensive plan, 
namely, to undertake a great war which would 
require a numerous body of soldiers. He had 
already enlisted bands of mercenaries, six hun- 
dred Hittites, who with their general Ittai, 
(whose admiration for David secured his un- 
swerving attachment,) arrived from Gath. The 
king also wished to ascertain the number of 


capable men over twenty years of age amongst 
all the Israelite tribes, in order to assure himself 
whether he could undertake, with their aid a cam- 
paign which would probably prove severe and 
tedious. The king delegated the office of number- 
ing the troops who could bear arms to his com- 
mander-in-chief Joab and the other generals. The 
process of numeration lasted nine months and 
twenty days. From the numbers which were handed 
in, supposing them correct, it appears that 
there were 1,300,000 men and youths capable of 
bearing arms amongst an entire population of 

This counting of the nation, however, proved to 
be a mistake for which David had to pay heavily. 
The people were highly incensed against him. In 
itself the act was displeasing to them, as they saw 
in it the prospect of enlistments for a war of long 
duration ; added to this was the fear that the 
numeration itself must be attended by evil results, 
for such was the view held in those days. A fearful 
pestilence broke out, which carried off great num- 
bers, and confirmed all minds in the impression 
that it had arisen in consequence of the numbering 
of the people. The capital naturally, being more 
densely populated, suffered the greatest loss from 
the pestilence. On seeing the numbers of corpses, 
or to speak in the metaphorical language of those 
days, at sight of *' the angel of Destruction" which 
snatched away so many, David exclaimed: — *' I 
have sinned and done wrong, but what has my poor 
flock done ? Let thy hand strike me and the house 
of my fathers." The plague having spared Mount 
Moriah, where the Jebusites had settled, the prophet 
Gad bade the king re-erect an altar and offer up 
sacrifices on that mountain, and announced that the 
pestilence would then be averted from Jerusalem. 
Without hesitation David and his entire court 
repaired thither. When the chief of the Jebusites, 


Ornah (Araunah), saw David approaching- in the 
distance he hurried to meet him, saluted him 
humbly, and asked what was his desire. David 
then informed him that he wished to buy the 
mountain in order to build an altar on it. Ornah 
graciously offered him the spot and all appertaining 
to it as a gift, but David refused to accept it. No 
sooner was an altar hastily erected there and a 
sacrifice made than the pestilence ceased in Jerusa- 
lem. From that time Mount Moriah was considered a 
sacred spot, which destruction could not approach; 
it was also the mountain on which Abraham was sup- 
posed to have offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. 

In consequence of this plague the nation con- 
ceived a dislike to David ; it condemned him for 
the loss of the thousands of human beings whom 
the Angel of Destruction had snatched away. 
Ahithophel made use of this dislike in order to 
avenge himself on David, and he employed Ab- 
salom as his tool, and, with him, contrived a con- 
spiracy which could not fail to succeed. 

Absalom secretly despatched messengers in every 
direction, in order to give those adherents who were 
already attached to him the necessary signal. The 
insurrection was to be set on foot in Hebron, an 
outpost of the tribe of Judah, where the elders had 
already declared for Absalom. The latter invented 
an explanation to deceive David as to the true pur- 
pose of his visit to Hebron, and the king permitted 
him to depart without suspicion. 

Absalom arrived at Hebron, attended by his 
friends and guards, and by two hundred of the 
most important men of Jerusalem, whom he had 
invited under some pretext, and who did not sus- 
pect his real aims. These two hundred men con- 
tributed, by their very ignorance of matters, to the 
success of the project. The people of Hebron, 
seeing that important men had joined Absalom's 
party, gave up David's cause as lost. Ahithophel, 

CH. VIII. Absalom's revolt. 143 

who had absented himself from court on some 
excuse, openly declared for Absalom, and gave his 
cause an immense accession of power, for he was 
known to be David's right hand. 

The traitorous plan succeeded but too well. The 
Hebronites and others present saluted Absalom 
as king, forswore their allegiance to David, and 
sacrificed burnt offerings. Ambition prompted 
various members of David's family also to join 
Absalom. This was more especially the case with 
Amasa, his cousin, who considered himself a great 
commander, and wished to supplant Joab. The 
messengers then passed the signal previously 
agreed upon, and the conspirators who sided with 
Absalom gathered together, and shouted *' Long live 
King Absalom!" They carried with them all 
who had been indignant with David for taking 
a census of the people, and in fact all who 
hoped to gain some advantage from changes and 
dissensions. The Benjamites, whom the loss of 
Saul had deprived of their right of precedence, and 
the ever-dissatisfied Ephraimites, were more parti- 
cularly delighted at David's downfall, and willingly 
did homage to the usurper ; they hoped to regain 
their former freedom through David's misfortunes. 
They had greater anticipations of obtaining power 
under Absalom (who was very vain, and not likely 
to retain the favour of the nation for long) than 
under the rule of David. The chief towns of all the 
tribes sent ambassadors to Hebron to salute the 
new king, and his adherents daily increased in 
numbers. At first the conspiracy was kept secret 
from those in authority ; no one was permitted to 
journey to Jerusalem, for fear of spreading the 
news. David only heard of his own dethronement 
and the accession of his son by perceiving that 
the houses of Judah and Israel had renounced 
their allegiance to him. 

It was a terrible blow for the king. But his 


resolve was soon taken ; he would not permit a 
civil war, as the sons of Zeruiah and many other 
faithful followers urged him to do. Deserted by- 
all the tribes, he would have been obliged to shut 
himself up in his capital. The city would not be 
able to resist the siege of so large an army ; and 
he saw, now that he was undeceived, Absalom 
would not scruple to make Jerusalem a sea of 
blood. David felt deeply wounded by the alliance 
of Ahithophel with his usurping son, and he was 
greatly discouraged by it. He saw, too late, that 
the conspiracy was of long standing, that the plan 
had been maturely considered, and that resistance 
on his part would only lead to his own destruction. 
He therefore announced to his people that he 
would depart from Jerusalem in all haste, before 
Absalom could leave Hebron with his numerous 

This step proved to David that he still had 
faithful friends who would be true to him till death. 
When, as he left his palace, on the road of the 
sellers of ointment, he observed to his great joy 
that a great concourse followed him. Not only 
his general, Joab, with his brother, Abishai, and 
their followers ; not only a great number of the 
warrior-corps (Gibborim), the hired troops, Chereth- 
ites and Pelethites, with Benaiah their leader, but 
also Ittai the Hittite, with six hundred men whom 
David had only shortly before enlisted. The 
entire population wept aloud, whilst David with- 
drew to the Vale of Kedron, and passing in ad- 
vance of his generals, fled over the Mount of 
Olives to the desert near the Jordan. He did 
not venture to take refuge in a city for fear of 

Later on the two high priests Zadok and Abiathar 
with all the Levites hurried after him, bearing the 
ark of the covenant with them. David however 
urged the priests to return to Zion with the ark, 


saying in a gentle manner, *'If by God's mercy I 
should be permitted to return to Jerusalem, then I 
shall again behold the ark of the covenant and the 
sanctuary ; if not, if God deserts me, I am ready to 
endure what seemeth good unto Him." It also 
appeared to him that the priests could be of more 
service to him while they remained in Jerusalem 
than if they joined him in exile. Whilst, then, the 
priests hastily brought back the ark to Jerusalem, 
David ascended Mount Olives barefoot, with covered 
head, his cheeks bathed in tears, and his whole 
court weeping bitterly. But when his grief and 
despair had reached their climax, a friend from the 
highest pinnacle of the opposite side of Mount 
Olives came to meet him and bring him help. 
Hushai from the city of Erech was a confidant of 
David's, and a counsellor of no less wisdom than 
Ahithophel. He advanced, prepared to share the 
king's flight, in mourning array, with torn garments 
and earth on his head. David however refused to 
permit this ; as an aged man he could only be a 
burden to him. In Absalom's vicinity he could do 
him greater service by counteracting Ahithophel' s 
counsels and giving him hints as to his future pro- 
ceedings. Hushai therefore returned to Jerusalem. 
The first town which David traversed in his flight 
was the Benjamite city of Bahurim, , Far from 
meeting with a friendly reception there, he was 
received with insult and neglect. A Benjamite 
named Shimei, of the house of Gera, reviled and 
cursed him, saying, " Thou outcast and man of 
wrath, God will repay thee for thy treatment of the 
house of Saul, whose crown thou hast stolen." He 
followed David's procession for a long distance, 
throwing stones and earth at him, so that the 
soldiers had to shield the king. David had, however, 
some friends in Bahurim too. Humbled and ex- 
hausted, the king at length passed through the 



desert and reached the neighbourhood of Jericho 
with his forces. 

Here he could recruit his energies after his recent 
bodily and mental exertions, while awaiting the 
news which his faithful adherents would transmit to | 
him from Jerusalem. | 

When David had reached the banks of the Jordan, 
Absalom arrived in Jerusalem with his traitorous 
adherents, and with his evil counsellor Ahithophel 
to assist him. Ahithophel urged the usurper to 
commit greater crimes in order to widen the breach 'i 
between him and his father, and to render a recon- -\ 
ciliation impossible. He advised Absalom to take \ 
possession of his father's harem. It would matter ; 
little to Ahithophel that Absalom would incur the : 
hatred of the people through this fresh misdeed. ■ 
His sole object was to revenge himself on David, . 
and to depose him. The weak-minded sinner who i 
called himself king, and who was incapable of any ^ 
unprompted undertaking, allowed himself to be in- ^ 
duced to commit this crime. But, whilst Absalom ■ 
was revelling in sinful acts, the man who was des- ] 
tined to undo all his ruthless deeds, was near at 1 
hand. Hushai had apparently submitted to the new \ 
king, and had assured him that he would serve him ; 
as faithfully as he had served his father, and Absa- ] 
lom relied on this promise. He called a council i 
to consider the most expedient plan for defeating ; 
and ruining his father. The elders of the tribes, : 
who were in the city, were invited to attend. \ 
Ahithophel gave the barbarous advice to attack \ 
David with a strong army on that same night. I 
They could overcome him by a sudden attack and ' 
superiority of numbers, and capture and slay the ! 
king, whom they imagined to be utterly worn out and i 
dispirited. Absalom also admitted Hushai into \ 
his counsels with regard to the campaign against 
his father, and he rejected Ahithophel's advice as { 
impracticable. Hushai urged such plausible objec- 


tions that Absalom was duped by them, and Hushai 
advised that they should not proceed against 
David with a small force, but that Absalom 
should raise from the entire nation — from Dan 
to Beersheba — an army vi^hose numbers would 
render it irresistible. Hushai' s advice was more 
favourably received than Ahithophel's, and steps 
were forthwith taken to act upon it. The attack was 
postponed, and the campaign was deferred till the 
numerous forces could be assembled. Hushai 
immediately conveyed the results of the meeting to 
David by means of Jonathan and Ahimaaz, the 
sons of the High Priest. 

The first result of these events was favourable 
to the cause of David, for Ahithophel departed 
from Jerusalem and hanged himself in his native 
town of Gilo. He was led to this course either 
by disgust at Absalom's conduct in setting aside 
his counsel, or by the conviction that Absalom's 
cause would be lost through delay, and that he 
himself would reap a well-deserved punishment. 
This suicide was a severe blow to the usurper, for 
he had no capable man amongst his followers, 
and he himself was neither warlike nor prudent. 
His general Amasa had but little military genius. 
The enrolment of soldiers was actually begun, 
but before it could be completed David had 
obtained an important advantage. He went to 
Mahanaim, the inhabitants of which town received 
him with a welcome as cordial as that which in 
former times they had extended to the fugitive son 
of Saul. All the Israelites on the opposite side 
of the Jordan offered their assistance, and placed 
themselves under his command. Two men of 
Gilead outvied each other in attentions to the un- 
happy king and father, and provided him and his 
followers with all necessaries. They were old men — ■ 
Barzillai from Rogelim, and Machir from Lo-debar 
— and help came also from Shobi, king of Ammon, 

L 2 


the son of Nahash. When at length Absalom or 
Amasa had succeeded in collecting a large force, 
they crossed the Jordan by means of rafts, and 
approached Mahanaim. The Absalomites en- 
camped opposite the wood — according to no parti- 
cular plan or order. David, on the other hand, 
divided his army into three divisions, commanded 
respectively by Joab, Abishai, Ittai, who were all 
three proved and competent soldiers. David 
himself was not permitted to accompany them, 
as his generals knew too well his love for his 
wicked son. The contest cost many human lives. 
Although Absalom's forces exceeded those of 
David in point of numbers, yet they were de- 
feated, for they were not arrayed with any order, 
and they also could not well traverse the forest. 
David's troops fought like one man, but the forest 
was more destructive than the sword. Twenty 
thousand warriors were said to have fallen there. 
The forest of Rephaim was also the cause of 
Absalom's personal destruction. His long hair, 
of which he was very vain, was caught in the 
branches of an oak, whilst the mule he had been 
riding galloped away. It was a special providence 
that Joab should have given him his death-blow ; 
the man by whom he had formerly been favoured, 
and who had, therefore, unconsciously assisted him 
in his conspiracy. Joab then sounded the horn as 
a signal to David's army to cease from the contest, 
and the adherents of Absalom took to flight, and 
crossed the Jordan. 

Thus ended the second civil war of David's reign, 
a war which was the more unnatural owing to the 
close relationship between the rival combatants, and 
to the sad causes which led to the contest. The first 
duty of the victors was to transmit the news of 
their triumph to David. This was in itself a painful 
office, for all knew how deeply David would feel 
the death of his wicked son. David started at the 



news, wept and sobbed, and cried repeatedly, *' My 
son, my son, Absalom ; would I had fallen instead 
of thee ! " The depths of a father's heart are un- 
searchable. Perhaps, he considered Absalom more 
as a victim whom Ahithophel had inveigled and 
urged on to rebellion. The warriors dared not 
enter Mahanaim as victors, but they crept home- 
wards as though humiliated after a defeat. David 
would see and speak to no one, but mourned con- 
tinually for his son's loss. At length Joab took 
heart and reproached him in harsh terms for his 
ingratitude towards his soldiers by his continued 
mourning. In order to rouse the king, Joab fur- 
ther threatened that if he did not immediately 
show himself to his soldiers and address them 
kindly, his faithful followers would leave the 
same night, and that he would remain alone and 
helpless. These sharp words of the rough but 
faithful Joab induced David to rouse himself, and 
show himself to the people. The corpse of Absa- 
lom was thrown into a cave, and covered with a 
heap of stones. He left a beautiful daughter, but 
his three sons had been snatched away by death 
before his revolt, as though it were destined that 
no son of his should witness the attempt against his 
father's life. During his short reign at Jerusalem 
he had erected a splendid monument to his own 
memory in the *' King's Valley." It was intended 
for his glorification, and it became the comme- 
moration of his disgrace. After the close of the 
war David contemplated returning to Jerusalem. 
He did not wish, however, to force the tribes to 
submission, but rather to await their repentant 
return to him, and the renewal of their oaths of 
allegiance. It was a curious fact, that the tribes 
of the north were the first to take this course. The 
people seem to have appealed to the elders to 
lead them back to their king. They cried, *'The 
king, who delivered us from our enemies and 


freed us from the yoke of the Philistines, was 
obliged by Absalom to flee from his own country. 
Absalom is now dead. Why do you not hasten 
to bring back our king ? Come, let us lead him 
home." On this the elders of the tribes invited 
David to return to his capital ; and thus, for the 
second time, they acknowledged him as king. The 
tribe of Judah — and naturally the tribe of Benja- 
min — held back, contrary to all expectation. They 
did not move one step to welcome their king. 
Probably the men of Judah felt bitterly ashamed of 
the revolt they had excited in Hebron, and could not 
venture to entreat David's pardon. Perhaps, too, 
the discontent which had incited them to forswear 
their allegiance was still at work amongst them. 

It seems that Amasa, who had fled to Jerusalem 
after the defeat in the forest of Gilead, still exer- 
cised a great influence over the men of Judah. 
When David saw that the tribe of Judah held aloof 
from him, he commanded the two priests, Zadok 
and Abiathar, who had remained in Jerusalem, to 
admonish the elders of Judah to invite their king 
to return. He told the priests to assure Amasa 
that he would receive a free pardon, and that he 
would retain his rank as general. With this pros- 
pect before him, Amasa determined to accept 
David's offers, and he persuaded the elders to 
accede to the king's proposal. The men of Judah 
thereupon sent an invitation to David, and an 
embassy went forth to meet the king and receive 
him at Gilgal. The men of Benjamin were 
sorely puzzled by this conduct. What should 
they do ? The Benjamites had publicly shown 
themselves inimical to David when he had fled 
from Jerusalem through their territory; they had 
not thought it possible that he would ever return 
and reclaim possession of his throne. Now affairs 
had changed, and not only the northern tribes, 
but even Judah, prepared to do him homage. The 


Benjamites felt no attachment to David, but they 
could not isolate themselves, for then the king's 
wrath would fall heavily on them. Shimei, whose 
insults had caused David such bitter pain during 
his flight, and who in consequence had most cause to 
fear the king's anger, advised that they should dis- 
play intense enthusiasm, exceeding that of the other 
tribes, for David's cause, since by appealing to 
his generosity they might make him favourably 
inclined towards them. In obedience to this advice 
one thousand Benjamites went forward to meet 
David, joined the Judaean embassy and on arriving 
at the bank of the Jordan, threw a bridge across 
the river in order to facilitate the king's transit. 
Meanwhile the king had left Mahanaim and ap- 
proached the Jordan, attended by his court, his 
servants, and the faithful followers whom he had 
attached on the opposite coast. Shimei advanced 
before all the others, threw himself at the king's 
feet as he was about to cross the river, acknow- 
ledged his fault and entreated David's forgiveness. 
David now returned with a larger concourse of 
followers than had accompanied him on his flight 
across the Jordan : he was attended by the Judaean 
embassy, by a thousand Benjamites, and by the. 
faithful friends who formed his guard of honour. 
The nearest town reached after crossing the Jordan 
was Gilgal. Here the ambassadors of the various 
tribes from the opposite side of the river were 
assembled to renew their homage ; they felt sur- 
prised and annoyed that the Judaeans had stolen a 
march on them by meeting the king at the further 
side of the Jordan. They saw in this eager display 
of fealty, which they could not consider sincere, an 
effort on the part of the house of Judah to regain 
the king's favour to the detriment of the house of 

The elders of Israel made no secret of their 
displeasure and gave vent to it in David's pre- 


sence; the Judseans, however, retaliated on them. 
This dispute ended in a violent quarrel, the 
Juda^ans making angry retorts, thus offending 
the northern tribes still more. Hence a bitter 
enmity arose between the contending parties ; 
David appears to have inclined to the side of 
the Judaeans. Sheba, a Benjamite of the family 
Bichri, seized his opportunity during the general 
confusion, sounded his trumpet and cried, '' We 
have no portion in David and no share in the son 
of Jesse; let every Israelite return to his tent." 
Obeying this cry, the elders of the northern tribes 
withdrew and followed Sheba the Bichrite. The 
men of Judah alone remained faithful to David and 
accompanied him to Jerusalem. The joy of their 
return was mingled with annoyance : a fresh breach 
had arisen amongst them, a civil war was imminent. 
At this sad juncture David had recourse to a step 
which may be considered either very wise or very 
foolish. Joab had become obnoxious to him since 
the king knew that he had killed Absalom, and David 
did not wish him to fill the capacity of general any 
longer. Besides this, he desired to keep his word 
with Amasa and to appoint him to the office of com- 
mander-in-chief. David being now dependent on 
the tribe of Judah felt the necessity of retaining 
Amasa' s good-will, as the latter s influence had 
immense weight with the Judaeans. Without Joab's 
cognizance he commanded Amasa to summon the 
forces of the tribe of Judah within three days, and 
to proceed against the rebels. The time expired 
and Amasa did not return. David became uneasy ; 
he thought Amasa might have deceived him and 
made common cause with the insurgents. It was 
necessary to be expeditious if he wished to prevent 
Sheba' s followers from increasing in number, and 
also, in the meantime, from occupying a fortified 
citadel. David had no choice but to turn to the 
sons of Zeruiah, who in their unswerving fidelity had 


remained true to him in spite of frequent slights, 
and whose skill in matters of war he had amply 
tested. David would not, however, give the 
supreme command to Joab, but entrusted it to his 
brother Abishai. He set out with the Cherethites 
and Pelethites, who formed the nucleus of the army 
which he hoped to collect on the way. Joab over- 
looked the insult which had been passed on him and 
joined the troops, or rather became their leader. He 
appears to have called on the people to assemble 
around him. Having arrived in Gibeon, where 
Amasa joined them, Joab killed him with one 
stroke of his sword, and the Judseans, whom Amasa 
had collected, followed the sons of Zeruiah. In all 
the towns fresh partisans and followers attached 
themselves to David's cause. Sheba found but 
few adherents, the northern tribes being unwilling 
to begin a civil war for the sake of a man who was 
but little known, and who was followed only by a 
small band of soldiers. He had thrown himself into 
the fortified town of Abel, and a part of his followers 
occupied the town of Dan, which lay at an hour's 
distance from the base of Mount Hermon, and not 
far from the source of the Jordan. Joab quickly 
ordered a trench to be dug round the town of Abel, 
and without calling on the inhabitants to surrender, 
undermined the walls so that they might fall. The 
inhabitants became greatly alarmed. Then a wise 
woman called from the wall to the sappers below to 
summon Joab. When he approached she addressed 
him reproachfully, *' Thou shouldst have asked 
first, that thou mightest have heard, whether in 
Abel and Dan all those who were faithful and peace- 
loving had departed from Israel. Why wilt thou 
slaughter the mothers and children of Israel? Why 
wilt thou destroy the inheritance of Jacob ? " Joab 
replied that he did not wish to do this, that he merely 
desired to capture the man who had lifted his hand 
against the king. On this the woman promised 


him to throw the head of the rebel over the wall. 
She kept her word, for she secretly persuaded her 
fellow citizens to separate Sheba from his few 
followers and to kill him. His gory head was 
cast over the wall, and Joab raised the siege, dis- 
missed his soldiers and returned to Jerusalem with 
the news of his victory; and the king was obliged 
unwillingly to leave him in command of the army. 
David returned with a purified mind to his capital. 
He had suffered, and atoned heavily for his sins. He 
had taken away the wife of his faithful servant, and his 
son had taken away his wives. He had spilt Uriah's 
blood, and the streams of blood shed in his own 
house had almost overwhelmed him. He had found 
by bitter experience how even the best king 
could not build on his people's love. His plan 
of undertaking a comprehensive war against his 
heathen foes had been shattered. He therefore 
confined himself in his old age, during the last 
years of his reign, to develop the inner life of his 
kingdom. He wished to carry out an idea he had 
long cherished, and to realise it before his death. 
He wished to build a magnificent temple to the God 
of Israel, who had rescued him in his many troubles. 
Before commencing, David consulted Nathan, the 
prophet ; for in those days the prophet ranked 
higher than the priest. He said, **I live in a palace 
of cedar wood, whilst the sanctuary of God is only 
in a temporary tent. I will build a temple of cedar 
for it!" Nathan approved the plan and said, 
*' Carry out all that is in thy heart, for God is with 
thee ! " The next day, however, the prophet came 
to him and discovered to David that he was not 
destined to build a temple, because he had spilt 
blood, but that this task would be reserved for his 
son. At the same time David was informed that 
his throne would be established for many years to 
come — that a long succession of kings would de- 
scend from him and occupy his throne, provided 


that they walked in the ways of God. Much as 
David had wished that he mig-ht build a stately 
temple in Jerusalem, he bowed humbly to the divine 
decree revealed to him by Nathan, and gave up his 
project. Before the ark of the covenant, he thanked 
God in a heartfelt prayer for the mercy bestowed 
on him, for having raised him up from his past 
degradation, and his heart was filled with gratitude 
that his royal house and his throne was to be estab- 
lished for many years to come. David gave expres- 
sion to this feeling in a psalm, but it had not the 
same verve as his former song ; it was, perhaps, his 
last poetic prayer. 

Although David did not commence the erec- 
tion of the temple himself, he began to make 
the necessary preparations. He devoted to the 
sanctuary a part of the booty which he had ac- 
quired from the conquered nations. He also regu- 
lated the order in which divine services were to 
be performed, according to Samuel's method, of 
having choirs of Levites to play on the harp and to 
sing psalms in addition to the ordinary sacrificial 
rites. He is also considered the inventor of the 
various musical instruments which were later on 
introduced into the service. Meanwhile David' s vital 
energy began to decrease before he had attained his 
seventy-first year. The anxieties of his youth, the 
constant warfare, the exciting events in his own 
family, Amnon's sinfulness and Absalom's revolt, 
caused him to grow old at a comparatively early 
age. He felt no warmth in his body ; he remained 
cold amidst the torrid heat of Jerusalem, and all 
the clothes which he could procure did not seem to 
supply him with the necessary vital heat. 

Adonijah, the king's fourth son, endeavoured 
to benefit by David's failing powers in order 
to sedure the succession. He was the next heir 
after the death of Amnon and AbSalom, but he 
feared that he might be passed over if he awaited 


the death of his father, and he had probably 
heard of the secret understanding by which the 
son of Bathsheba, his youngest brother, was to 
succeed. Adonijah had no desire to revolt against 
his father as Absalom had done, but he wished to 
make his right to succeed a recognised fact, and 
chiefly with the dignitaries of the kingdom. He 
therefore took counsel with those of David's court 
who were opposed to Solomon's succession. First 
amongst these was Joab, who supported him as he 
had formerly supported Absalom. Adonijah' s other 
confidant was Abiathar, the second of the high 
priests, who seems to have been placed in an 
inferior position by David. Zadok, whose family 
had been appointed hereditary high priests by Saul 
at Gibeon, had been retained in that position by 
David, who wished to secure his support, and there- 
fore bestowed upon him the highest rank in the 
sanctuary. Abiathar may have felt hurt at the 
indignity put upon him, and perhaps took the part of 
Adonijah so as to secure the position he could not 
hope to obtain under Solomon. The other sons 
of the king also wished to see the throne secured 
to Adonijah, and thus intrigues at the court com- 
menced afresh. Adonijah was as handsome and as 
popular as Absalom had been, and also, as it appears, 
as thoughtless and unfit for governing. Like Absa- 
lom he began to draw the eyes of the masses towards 
himself by a truly royal display ; he procured 
chariots and attendants on horseback, and kept a 
guard of fifty runners, who preceded him wherever 
he went. David was weak in his behaviour to him, 
as he had been to Absalom — permitted him to take 
his own way, and thus tacitly acknowledged him as 
successor. One day Adonijah invited to a meeting 
his confidants, Joab, Abiathar, and all the king's 
sons excepting Solomon. They offered up sacri- 
fices near a well, and during the feast his followers 
cried, ** Long live King Adonijah ! " 


The first to take exception to Adonijah's proceed- 
ings was Nathan the prophet. He knew of the 
secret promise given by David to his wife Bathsheba 
that Solomon should inherit the crown. He had 
also revealed to David that -Solomon would be his 
successor. He seems to have had confidence in 
Solomon's character, and to have expected better 
things from him than from Adonijah. Nathan 
therefore went to Bathsheba and imparted a plan 
by which Adonijah's scheme might be over- 
thrown. Bathsheba then repaired to the king, 
reminded him of his oath, and directed his attention 
to the fact that in the event of Adonijah's succession 
she and her son would both be sacrificed, and her 
marriage would be considered as a disgraceful one. 

Hardly had she ended the description of the sad 
fate which awaited her if Solomon's claims were set 
aside, than the prophet Nathan was announced, 
and confirmed her assertions. David's resolve was 
quickly taken and carried into effect on the 
same day, for he was most anxious to keep his 
oath to leave the sceptre to Solomon. He called 
upon the dignitaries who had not conspired with 
Adonijah, on Zadok, Benaiah and the warriors, 
and announced to them his resolve that Solomon 
should be anointed king during his own lifetime, 
and they all solemnly promised to acknowledge 
Solomon. On this, David summoned the Cherethites 
and Pelethites to attend his son. Solomon then 
mounted one of the royal mules and proceeded to 
the valley of Gibeon. To the west of the town a 
mass of people joined the procession, and when the 
high priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan had 
anointed him from the oil which was kept in the 
tent of the sanctuary, the soldiers blew their trum- 
pets and all the people cried, "Long live King 
Solomon ! " 

Great excitement now prevailed in Jerusalem. 
While the eastern mountains echoed with the cry 


of ^* Long live King Adonijah ! " the western chain j 
was resounding with shouts of *' Long live King | 
Solomon ! " Had both the king's sons and their 
adherents remained obstinate, a civil war must have [ 
ensued. But Adonijah was not like Absalom — he 
did not wish to excite a rebellion. His chief sup- ' 
porters, Joab and Abiathar, would not have assisted 
him in such an attempt. No sooner had Adonijah ; 
heard that Solomon had been anointed king by his i 
father's command chan his courage failed him. 
He hastened to the sanctuary at Zion in order to 
seek a refuge in the holy of holies. Solomon, how- j 
ever, who had immediately taken the reins of 
government, sent to inform him that he might leave ^ 
the sanctuary, that not a hair of his head should be j 
touched so long as he did not attempt any fresh j 
revolt. Adonijah then repaired to the young king, 
paid him the due homage, and was dismissed with 
presents. Thus the quarrel as to the succession i 
ended. David's weakness gradually increased, and | 
after a stormy reign of forty years and six months j 
(1015), he slept in peace. He was the first to occupy 
a place in the royal mausoleum which he had built 
in a rocky cave on the southern slope of Mount 

David's death was deeply mourned. He had 
made the nation great, independent and happy, and 
in death he was exalted. When the soul had left 
his body, the nation began to realize the true value 
of his work and what he had been to them. He had 
reunited the various tribes, each of which had before 
followed its own special interests, and had formed 
them into one nation. The revolts of Absalom and 
Sheba proved sufficiently how strong the feeling 
had become which bound the tribes together. The 
house of Israel did not seize the opportunity offered 
by his death of severing itself from the house of 
Judah, and great as was their jealousy of each 
other, they yet held together. David had removed 


every inducement for party divisions, and had knit 
them together with a kind but firm hand. During 
his reign the priesthood and prophets worked 
amicably together. Thus Solomon was anointed 
by the high priest Zadok in conjunction with the 
prophet Nathan. David maintained friendly rela- 
tions between the priestly houses of Eleazar and 
Ithamar, who were represented by Zadok and 
Abiathar respectively. The nation could no longer 
complain of oppression, for he gave them justice 
whenever it was in his power to do so. In destroying 
the power of the Philistines, who had so long held 
in subjection the neighbouring tribes and the 
nations inhabiting the banks of the Euphrates, he 
had not only founded a great empire which could 
vie in power with Egypt, but he had cast into the 
shade the Chaldsean and Assyrian kingdoms on the 
Euphrates and Tigris. By this means he had roused 
the people to the proud consciousness that it con- 
stituted a mighty nation of the Lord, the possessor 
of the law of God, the superior of the neighbouring 
nations. David's error was gradually forgotten, for 
his atonement had been both grievous and manifold. 
Posterity pronounced a milder judgment on him 
than his contemporaries. The remembrance of his 
great deeds, his kindness, his obedience to God, 
invested him with the traits of an ideal king, who 
served as a pattern to all later rulers as one who 
had always walked in the ways of God and never 
departed therefrom. The kings of his house who 
succeeded him were measured by his standard, and 
were judged by the extent of their resemblance to 

David's reign shone through all ages as the most 
perfect, and as one in which power and humility, 
fear of God and peace, were united. With every 
succeeding century David's reputation for sanctity 
seems to have increased, until he became the ideal 
of a virtuous and holy king. 



The new King's Rule — Solomon's Choice— Poetic Allegory — Murder 
of Adonijah and Joab — The Court — Alliance with Egypt — 
Tyre— Solomon's Buildings — The Temple Plan — The Workmen 
— The Materials — Description of the Temple — The Ceremony 
of Consecration — Reorganisation of the Priesthood — The King's 
Palace — The Throne — Increase of National Wealth — The Fleet 
— The seeds of disunion — Jeroboam — Idolatry permitted — Es- 
trangement from Egypt — Growth of surrounding Kingdoms — 
Solomon's fame — His death. 

1015—977 B.C. 

David had left the state of affairs in such perfect 
order in Israel that his successor, unless he were a 
fool or a knave or the victim of evil advice, would 
have but little trouble to govern. Solomon, how- 
ever, carried David's work still further. He raised 
the kingdom of Israel to a yet higher pitch, so 
that the most distant generations could revel in 
the beams of light shed on them through his wise 
rule. It is certain that a king who solidifies and in- 
creases, if he does not actually found the greatness 
of the State, who permits his people the enjoyment 
of peace, who sheds the bounties of plenty over his 
land, driving poverty away from the meanest hovel, 
who opens out new directions for the development 
of his people's powers, and who thus increases 
and strengthens them ; the king who also has the 
intelligence to arouse them to exercise their mental 
gifts and their love of the beautiful, who by his 
worldly and spiritual labours elevates his country to 
the dignity of a model State such as had never been 
before him and scarcely ever after him — such a 
monarch must assuredly deserve the highest praise 
that posterity can accord to him. Carried away 


by the greatness of his deeds — -for all these grand 
characteristics were strikingly prominent in Solo- 
mon — men shut their eyes to his weaknesses, and 
considered them the inevitable result of human 
imperfection. In the first place he strove to pre- 
serve peace for his country, though his father had 
left him ample means for making fresh conquests. 
He was called the king of peace — ** Shelomo.'* 
He established the prosperity and comfort of his 
people, and raised them from a condition of op- 
pression and narrow-minded servility. He ruled 
them with wisdom and justice, and decided with 
strict impartiality all quarrels which divided indi- 
viduals and tribes. He increased the number of the 
towns, and secured the safety of the roads and 
of the caravans. -He filled the City of Jerusalem 
with splendour and built therein a magnificent 
temple in honour of God. He himself cultivated 
the fine arts and poetry, and thereby endowed them 
with fresh attractions in the eyes of the people. 
Lastly, he set great aims before the nation, and 
was rightly called the wise king. 

Justice, the impartial arbitress, cannot, how- 
ever, be blinded by his dazzling virtues to the 
blemishes which attach to his government, as a 
result of which must be accounted the unfortunate 
breach which commenced when his grave was 
scarcely closed. The beginning of Solomon's rule 
was not free from the stain of blood, and its end was 
clouded with mists which dimmed its brightness ; 
his love of splendour became injurious to morality ; 
it made him despotic, and imposed a burden on the 
people which they endured for a considerable time, 
but shook off at the first favourable opportunity. 
Solomon converted the kingly power into an auto- 
cracy under which every will had to be subservient 
to his. But these blemishes were entirely hidden by 
the greatness of the creations under his rule. It 
is also difficult to decide in how far Solomon was 

VOL. I. M 


personally responsible for these matters, or in how 
far the blame rested with his too active servants, or 
with that dire necessity, which draws both high and 
low into its restless whirlpool with overpowering 
velocity. It is the curse of crowned heads that the 
w^orthiest wearer of a crown is induced to take steps 
in order to consolidate his powder, which his con- 
science would under other circumstances condemn, 
while the misdeeds of his servants are also added 
to his account. Solomon was young — scarcely 
twenty — when he ascended the throne. Whils«t 
he was at the altar at Gibeon, after his accession, 
he had a vision in which it appeared to him that God 
commanded him to express the innermost wish of 
his heart, with the promise that it should be fulfilled. 
He did not choose a long life, nor riches, nor honour, 
nor the death of his enemies ; but he chose wisdom, 
in order that he might rule his people with justice. 
This wisdom, this power of entering into the feelings 
and minds of the dissenting parties who appeared 
before him, of seizing on the true state of the case 
in spite of exaggeration and subtle arguments, 
Solomon possessed to an extraordinary degree. The 
judgment of Solomon is well known. In a verdict 
where the real feeling of a mother could reveal 
itself, he recognized in a dispute between two women 
for the possession of a child, on which side was truth, 
on which side falsehood. ** Cut the child in half,'' 
he said. But its real mother could not accept this 
decision, and offered rather to give up her child. 
No one could complain of injustice in his kingdom. 
Though he may not have been the first who uttered 
the saying, ** That through justice the throne should 
be established," yet it was a maxim after his own 

In another direction, the wisdom of Solomon has 
also been greatly extolled, namely in his poetic 
art. This chiefly consisted in allegorical poems 
(Mashal) ; in these he caused the lofty cedars of 


Lebanon, and the lowly creeping wall plants, to 
speak as the highest and lowest emblems; in the 
same way he made use of quadrupeds, birds of the 
air, and reptiles. 

Solomon was by no means the inventor of poetic 
fables, each of which ended with an appropriate 
moral. It has been related that Solomon com- 
posed three thousand such fables and five thou- 
sand songs or proverbs, and these compositions 
were for a long period common among the Israel- 
ites. Standing on Mount Gerizim, Jotham, the son of 
the Judge Gideon, addressed the misguided people 
of Shechem in an ingenious parable. The prophet 
Nathan had disguised his exhortation to David 
respecting his sin with Bathsheba in the form of a 
parable. But though Solomon was not the inventor 
of this style of poetry, he is still deserving of praise 
for devoting the time left unoccupied by the cares 
of government, to the further development of the 
art. Solomon's rare qualities of mind were dis- 
played in yet another direction. In some compo- 
sitions he spoke of persons and things in such 
a manner as merely to refer to them by means 
of signs, and thus to leave their identity a 
matter of guesswork. Such an enigma when pre- 
sented in a poetic form made a pleasant amuse- 
ment as a jeu (T esprit to pass the time whilst in 
camp or at the feast. Solomon possessed a remark- 
able taste for these things. 

He was, however, guilty of errors, the greater 
part of which arose from his putting too much 
stress on his royal dignity, and from imitating the 
kings of the neighbouring states of Tyre and Egypt 
with whom he stood on an intimate footing. He 
claimed for himself a right almost impious in* 
a mortal, namely, that the king should be the 
chief object in the State, that all interest should 
be centred in him, and that all else should be of 
comparatively little importance. Even Solomon's 

M 2 


wisdom ran headlong against this point of dispute. 
Samuel's warning at the time of the election of a 
ruler was realised to a greater extent through the 
wise king than through his predecessors. 

Unfortunately Solomon was a younger son, to 
whom the throne had been allotted contrary to 
ordinary laws of succession, whilst Adonijah, whom 
a portion of the people had recognised as king, 
was considered the rightful heir. So long as the 
latter lived, Solomon's government could not be on 
a firm basis, and he could never feel himself secure. 
Adonijah had therefore to be removed ; the leader 
of the body guard, Benaiah, forcibly entered his 
house and killed him. As an excuse for this act 
of violence, it was asserted that Adonijah had 
attempted to win the hand of Abishag, the young 
widow of David, and thus had revealed his 
traitorous intention of contesting the throne with 
his brother. No sooner had he fallen than Joab, the 
former adherent of Adonijah, feared that a similar 
fate would overtake him. This exemplary general, 
who had contributed so considerably to the ag- 
grandisement of the people of Israel and to the 
power of the house of David, fled to the altar on 
Mount Zion, and clung to it, hoping to escape 
death. Benaiah, however, refused to respect his 
place of refuge, and shed his blood at the altar. In 
order to excuse this crime, it was circulated that 
David himself, on his death-bed, had impressed on 
his successor the duty of preventing Joab's grey 
head from sinking in peace to its last rest. 

It is uncertain whether Benaiah was Solomon's 
evil adviser, or merely his instrument. Joab's 
death was the cause of great joy amongst the 
enemies of Israel, and aroused in them the courage 
to plan a rebellion. Adonijah's priestly partisan, 
Abiathar, whom Solomon did not dare to touch, 
was deprived of his office as high priest, and 
Zadok was made the sole head of the priesthood. 


His descendants were invested with the dignity of 
high priest for over a thousand years, whilst the 
offspring of Abiathar were neglected. The Ben- 
jamite Shimei, who had attacked David with execra- 
tions on his flight from Jerusalem, was also executed, 
and it was only through this threefold deed of blood 
that Solomon's throne appeared to gain stability. 

Solomon then directed his attention to the forma- 
tion of a court of the greatest magnificence, such as 
was befitting the powerful king whose commands 
were obeyed from the boundaries of Egypt to the 
banks of the Euphrates. In those days it was con-' 
sidered a necessary adjunct to the King's dignity to 
possess many wives ; David had about sixteen wives, 
but this was an insignificant number as compared 
with the courts of the kings of Egypt and Phoenicia, 
which Solomon had taken as his pattern. Solomon, 
therefore, formed an immense harem, as was the 
custom or failing of the kings in those days. His 
first wife was Naamah (the beautiful), an Ammonite 
princess ; he also had other wives from the Moabite 
and Aramaean courts, and even from those of the 
Hittite and Canaanite kings ; but what most 
gratified his pride was that the Egyptian king 
Psusennes, gave him his daughter as a wife. Solo- 
mon thought in acting thus he had taken a wise step, 
and that his country and the importance of his house 
would be benefited by the alliance. But the result 
proved the contrary. The daughter of Psusennes 
was naturally received with every mark of attention 
in the Israelites' capital, she became the first queen 
in Solomon's harem, but it seemed to him a disgrace 
that he could not place a magnificent palace at the 
disposal of this queen. What was the cedar palace 
built by David on Mount Zion, when compared 
with the gigantic edifices and labyrinth-like palaces 
of the kings of Egypt ? 

Solomon therefore determined to build a palace 
worthy of her. Through the alliance with Egypt 


changes of immense extent had occurred in Israel, 
horses and chariots had been introduced. Solomon 
had entered into close and friendly connection with 
Hiram, king of Tyre, with whom David had already 
established a neighbourly intimacy. He appears 
to have married a daughter of Hiram, too, and this 
close bond between Solomon and Hiram seems to 
have led to important and extensive undertakings. 
The establishment of a large harem demanded an 
immense body of servants. Solomon had a most 
brilliant court. The ambassadors of tributary and 
friendly powers had to be received with great pomp, 
for Solomon laid great weight on the display of 
splendour, and his court demanded the use of large 
sums of money. As he could not otherwise obtain 
supplies for his enormous expenditure — the royal 
house not having any extensive properties in its 
own right — the people had to defray the cost. The 
whole land was divided into twelve parts, and a 
Governor was placed over each division to see that 
the inhabitants contributed every year one month's 
provisions; the purpose of this division seems to 
have been that the old system of tribal isolation 
might cease. A superior, or Vizier, was appointed 
over these twelve officials, whose duty it was to 
see that the tribute of natural products was sent 
in regularly. 

Solomon displayed his increased grandeur in his 
buildings. He was anxious in the first instance to 
raise a splendid temple to the God of Israel in the 
capital of his country. It could not be a matter of 
indifference to him that in the neighbouring lands 
of Egypt and Phoenicia, with the rulers of which he 
was intimately acquainted, gigantic temples were 
raised for the various gods, whilst in his country 
the sanctuary was merely placed in a tent. Solomon, 
therefore immediately after his accession to the 
throne, made preparations for commencing the 
erection of a sacred edifice; the place was already 


chosen. It was to be on Mount Moriah, to the 
north-east of the city, where David had raised an 
altar after the pestilence had ceased. Silver and 
gold had been collected for the purpose, but build- 
ing materials, stones and cedar wood had still to be 
procured ; even beams and blocks had to be hewn 
out of the rocks. The beams for the walls were 
made so as to dovetail, and were thus easily joined. 
But whence could they procure workmen for this 
troublesome business of hewing, preparing and 
conveying the stones? Solomon had learnt from 
Pharaoh Psusennes, his father-in-law, the means of 
obtaining workmen without incurring heavy expense 
— viz., by employing the remainder of the Canaanite 
population still living In the country. Although 
Saul had begun to decrease their numbers, he could 
not proceed against them with his full strength, on 
account of his continual strife with David. David 
had left them undisturbed, so they lived quietly and 
mixed peacefully with the Israelites, and served the 
king faithfully in his wars against the Philistines 
and other nations. Solomon, on the contrary, 
declared the remnant of the Ammonites, Hittites, 
Perlzzites and Hivltes, as well as the Jebusltes 
(whom David had permitted to live In the outskirts 
of Jerusalem), to be bondsmen, and compelled them 
to perform the hardest labour. They numbered 
150,000 youths and able-bodied men, and comprised 
the working class. More than 3,000 Israelite super- 
intendents kept the enslaved natives to their work. 
A superior officer, Adonlram, watched over the 
superintendents and the workmen. Eighty thousand 
of these unhappy beings worked In the stone quarries 
day and night by the light of lamps. They were 
under the direction of a man from BIblos (Gibllm), 
who understood the art of hewing heavy blocks 
from the rocks and of bringing the edges Into the 
necessary shape for dovetailing. Twenty thousand 
slaves removed the heavy blocks from the mouth 


of the quarry and carried them to the building 

Hiram, the King of Tyre, Solomon's friend, sup- 
plied cedar and cypress wood. The trees were felled 
on Lebanon, for which purpose Hiram placed skilled 
workmen at Solomon's disposal. The trunks were 
forwarded from Lebanon to Tyre or to the other 
harbours by means of rafts till they reached 
the port of Jaffa, whence ' they were conveyed 
with much toil over hills and dales to Jeru- 
salem, a distance of at least ten hours' journey. As 
the Canaanite slaves were not sufficiently numerous 
for the removal of the cedar and cypress trees and 
for their conveyance to their destination, Solomon 
employed Israelites to assist in the work, thirty 
thousand being impressed for the duty. Each ten 
thousand were sent for a month to work in the 
forests, to fell the trees, and convey them to their 
destination. After a month had passed, the work- 
men were relieved by ten thousand others. These 
thirty thousand Israelites were not enslaved — they re- 
mained free and even received wages — but they were 
not allowed to withdraw voluntarily from the work. 

It was not to be expected that Hiram would 
cut down his cedar and cypress forests, or that 
he would place carpenters and builders at Solo- 
mon's disposal, without receiving some return. So 
long as the buildings were in course of comple- 
tion Solomon paid him an annual amount of corn, 
wine and oil, in the delivery of which tribute the 
people were probably employed. But Hiram 
was also obliged to advance gold for the adorn- 
ment of the interior of the temple. Solomon's fleet 
had not yet introduced the precious metal. In re- 
turn for the money, Solomon yielded up to Hiram 
twenty towns on the borders of Phoenicia, and the 
territory of Israel in the tribe of Asher. Though 
these were not important and did not please Hiram, 
still it was a transference of Israelite territory to 


the hands of the Phoenicians. Hiram permitted 
various races to colonise the towns, from whom the 
territory received the name '*Gelil Haggaim," later 
Galilea (the district of nations). As soon as the 
stones and blocks of wood had been removed to the 
building site of the temple, the erection of which was 
to occupy three years, the work was commenced. 

The temple was composed of blocks of wood, and 
the walls were covered with cedar planks. On these 
were traced designs of palms, open flower cups and 
cherubim (winged heads with human faces), and 
these designs were inlaid with gold. The temple 
was sixty yards long, twenty yards wide, and thirty 
yards high. It was divided into the Holy of Holies 
(Debir, the inner chamber, a square of about twenty 
yards), and the Holy place (Hechal, which was forty 
yards long). The Holy of Holies seems to have 
been situated on higher ground than the sanctuary. 
At the sides were two cherubim of gilded olive 
wood, each ten yards high, the wings of which 
were five yards wide. At the entrance of the 
sanctuary was an open vestibule (Ulam), which 
was of the same width as the sanctuary, and ten 
yards in length, and in front of this hall there 
were artistically wrought columns of bronze. The 
artist, Hiram, was a half Jew, his father being 
a Syrian and his mother a Napthalite. The 
Holy of Holies was turned towards the west, so 
as to face the rising sun ; the gates were of olive 
wood, supported by gilded cherubim, and it was 
adorned with palms and flower cups. The folding 
doors of the sanctuary, made of cypress wood, were 
ornamented in a like manner, and the floor was of 
cypress wood inlaid with gold ; only the cherubim, 
intended to support the ark of the covenant, in 
which the books of the law were kept, were visible. 
In the sanctuary there was an altar of cedar wood 
gilded on all sides, with five gilded candlesticks at 
each side and a large gilded table on which were 


placed twelve loaves. The temple was surrounded 
by an extensive courtyard. Inside the vestibule 
stood a large iron altar, and a spacious water trough 
called the * ' iron sea, ' ' adorned with a border of open 
flowercups and lily-buds, and on the lower part were 
colocynths. This water trough was supported by 
twelve iron bulls, each three of which turned in 
a different direction. The water was intended for 
washing the hands and feet of the high priest when- 
ever he entered the sanctuary, and probably a tap 
was used to make the water flow. Ten small water 
carriers on wheels, artistically engraved, were pushed 
to any spot where they might be wanted. Solomon 
had large quantities of articles prepared for 
use in the temple, and also vessels for the sacri- 
ficial rites and for incense. The whole building 
inside and outside was stamped with the impress of 
wealth and grandeur. At the completion of the build- 
ing, its consecration was performed (1007) with 
solemn rites. The erection of the temple had 
occupied seven years, and the month selected for 
the consecration was that in which the field work 
and vintage ended. The chiefs of all the tribes 
and the elders of families were invited, and 
people streamed from every quarter to gaze in 
astonishment at the splendours of the temple and 
to be present at the unaccustomed sight. The 
solemnities commenced by the transfer of the sanc- 
tuary from Mount Zion, the town of David, to Mount 

The rods attached to the ark were those which 
had been used during the wanderings in the 
desert. They were so displayed that all* present 
could see that holy relic of past ages, the two stone 
tables containing the ten commandments. During 
the transfer of the ark of the covenant and during 
the consecration, many thousands of sacrifices were 
offered, and psalms were also sung. No sooner had 
the ark of the covenant been brought into the Holy 


of Holies than a thick cloud filled the body of the 
temple, so that the Aaronites were interrupted in 
their service. This was considered a token of God's 
mercy, and a sign that the consecration had been 
performed in the spirit of God's w4sh. The per- 
vading feelings of the assembled masses were 
therefore joyous, elevated and pious. The king 
gave expression to the general feeling in a few 
grave words: *^God has promised to dwell in a 
cloud. I have built a dwelling for thee, O God — 
an abode for thee to dwell in for ever." Mount 
Moriah thus appeared like Mount Sinai, on which 
the voice of God had been revealed in a dense cloud. 
With awestruck gaze the people believed that from 
between the two cherubim, God would exhort them 
as to the course they were to take. A prophet who 
was present (perhaps Ahijah, of Shiloh) announced 
to King Solomon in the name of God, '' If thou wilt 
walk in my law, and obey my commands and fulfil 
my behests, then I will fulfil unto thee the promise 
I made unto David, thy father — * I shall dwell in the 
midst of the sons of Israel, and I will not desert my 
people.' " 

The nation repaired joyfully to Jerusalem at the 
autumn festivals, which occurred simultaneously 
with the consecration. Deep was the impression 
made by this temple, gleaming with gold and bronze, 
sumptuous and imposing in its structure, which 
contained no visible image of the Deity, but was 
only filled with His invisible presence. The house 
of God offered something tangible to those whose 
imaginations could not conceive anything spiritual 
unallied to some perceptible form. The temple 
was the pride and strength of Israel, and the 
delight of its eyes. With the consecration was 
inaugurated a religious service such as had been 
impossible within the narrow limits of the sanctuary 
in Shiloh, and during the transition period in the 
tent at Zion. The priesthood had certainly existed 


even in former times, and had been specially reserved 
for the descendants of Aaron. It was only under 
Solomon that a high priest was put at the head of 
the others, and that gradations in rank were intro- 
duced. Azariah, the son of Zadok, had been 
advanced to the office of high priest after the death 
of his father, and was assisted by the inferior priests. 
A new arrangement was substituted for the Levites, 
who were subordinate to the priests. A part of 
them performed sacrificial services. Another part 
kept guard at the four sides of the temple, and had 
the supervision of the vessels and the requisites for 
the temple service. Lastly, certain families took part 
in the singing and instrumental music that accom- 
panied the services. It was the temple and the 
arrangements connected with it, that actually esta- 
blished Jerusalem in the position of the capital of 
the country. Pilgrims from all the tribes attended 
the autumnal festival there, in order to be present 
at the solemn divine service, in which they could 
not participate at their tribal altar. Jerusalem thus 
gradually became an important commercial town, 
in which foreign goods and curiosities appeared, 
and attracted even greater numbers of visitors from 
all the tribes. Jerusalem, the youngest of the cities 
in the land of Israel, superseded and outvied all the 
more ancient towns. 

Solomon gave orders that the capital should be 
fortified on all sides, and that the temple should 
also be included within the limits of the fortifica- 
tions. The erection of the royal palace occupied a 
period of more than thirteen years. It consisted 
of a series of buildings which extended over a great 
area on the northern wing of the quarter called 
Millo. The nearest entrance to it was the House 
of Lebanon Wood, which took its name from the 
numerous pillars of cedar which stood there, fifteen 
in each row. This house was the Armoury, for the 
king's protection. Here thirteen hundred guards 

CH. IX. Solomon's BUILDINGS. 173 

kep.t watch ; they were provided with spears and 
shields of gold, and acted as the king's attendants 
when he proceeded to the temple. Great attention 
was given by Solomon to the arrangements for the 
justice or throne chamber. It had a floor inlaid with 
beams of cedar and adorned with gold fretwork. In 
this hall Solomon's throne was placed. It was con- 
sidered a marvellous curiosity, and was ornamented 
with ivory and inlaid with gold. It was mounted by 
six steps, and on each step were two cleverly-de- 
signed lions, the symbol of power and of royal dig- 
nity. The seat was supported at each side by arms, 
and on it were also two lions. In the hall of public 
justice Solomon heard contesting parties and pro- 
nounced judgment : he considered his office of 
judge, one of the most important and holiest duties 
of his kingly dignity. Here he also received the 
ambassadors of the various countries who attended 
his court, to offer their homage or negotiate new 
treaties with him. A special palace was built for 
the king, his servants and his wives, a separate 
house being reserved for the Egyptian princess. 
It appears that her removal from David's house to 
her own residence was effected with great pomp. 

Probably Solomon had an aqueduct built so as 
to supply the town of Jerusalem and the temple 
plentifully with water from the spring of Etam, 
which was two hours' journey from Jerusalem. 
The practice of building splendid edifices of cedar 
was not confined to Solomon, but the great nobles 
and princes who lived in Jerusalem, the high officers, 
and favourites, all followed his example. With the 
wealth that streamed into the land through the open- 
ing of three important channels, the love of show 
which was shared by the king and the higher classes 
could be freely gratified. Phoenician merchants of 
high standing who carried on a large wholesale 
trade, money changers, men of wealth who lent 
money on interest, now settled in Jerusalem. They 


composed a special corporation or guild, and 
were under the protection of the treaty between 
Solomon and Hiram. They were permitted to 
live according- to their own laws, and were 
even allowed to practise their religious or 
rather idolatrous rites. The three great sources 
of wealth were the Power/til Position of the State, 
the Alliance with Egypt, and the Indian Trade. 
Those princes who had entered into treaties with 
David confirmed them with his successor, and 
other potentates sought his friendship. On swear- 
ing allegiance, all these princes and nations sent 
quantities of the customary tribute and gifts, such 
as gold and silver vessels, valuable garments, spices, 
horses and mules. The alliance with Egypt was 
also the source of considerable additions to .the 
national wealth, as that kingdom provided horses 
for the mountainous districts, and the war chariots 
which were in great demand in foreign parts. Thus 
the princes of Aram and of the territories on the 
Euphrates procured their horses and chariots from 
Egypt, which had supplied Solomon with the same 
war materials. The latter established a station for 
riders and horses on the plain not far from the sea. 
He kept twelve thousand horses and fourteen hun- 
dred war chariots (each having two horses attached), 
and for these spacious buildings, containing four 
thousand stalls, were required. Solomon's greatest 
gains, however, were acquired, in trade with India. 
The journey to this far distant country was attended 
with insuperable difficulties so long as the country on 
the Red Sea was rendered unsafe by the uncivilized 
and predatory bands who dwelt there. By his 
alliance with Hiram, Solomon had opened up a 
safer and nearer route to India. The strip of 
land extending from the southern border of Judah 
to the eastern coast of the Red Sea, the Points 
Elath and Eziongeber, had been rendered acces- 
sible. The caravans of laden camels could proceed 


in safety from Jerusalem and from the coast to the 
northern point of the Red Sea. At Hiram's sug- 
gestion, Solomon had a fleet of strong and large 
ships (ships of Tarshish) built and armed on the coast 
at Eziongeber. Hiram sent his most skilful sailors 
who knew the route thoroughly, to man the vessels. 
Israelites of the tribes of Asher and Zebulun, who 
lived on the coast and were acquainted with the 
sea, were also employed. 

When the Israelite fleet was complete, it sailed 
out of the harbour of Eziongeber to the Red Sea, 
which separates Palestine from Egypt, Nubia, and 
Abyssinia, and proceeded along the coast to the 
Gulf which washes the shores of Southern Arabia, 
as far as the mouth of the Indus, in the land of 
Ophir (now called Scind). After a period of two 
years, Solomon's fleet returned richly laden with 
the proceeds of this first expedition. Vast droves 
of camels carried the treasures to Jerusalem, and 
created great astonishment amongst the nation. 
They brought more than four hundred talents 
(kikhar) of gold, silver in great quantities, ivory, 
ebony, apes, and exquisitely-coloured peacocks, 
sandal-wood, and sweet-smelling plants. Solomon 
caused a throne to be made with the ivory, and 
the sandal-wood was used for ornamenting the 
harps and lutes of the musicians who played in 
the temple. The palings of the bridge which 
led from the palace to the temple were also made 
of this rare and costly wood. Solomon sent his 
fleet several times to Ophir or India, and every 
time new riches and curiosities were brought into 
the country. The port Elath became a place of 
great importance. It was colonized by Judaeans, 
and the land of Israel thus extended from the 
extreme end of the Red Sea to the Euphrates. 
In order to convey horses and chariots from 
Aramsea to the Euphrates, as also the various goods 
from Phoenicia, roads had to be made, and mea- 


sures taken to ensure the safety of the cara- 
vans. It was not easy to make roads in a moun- 
tainous country, so as to enable the beasts of 
burden and also the horses and chariots to traverse 
long distances where rocky heights or precipitous 
slopes and rolling masses of stone offered continual 
hindrance to progress. Solomon, however, had 
roads made which led from Jerusalem to the north ; 
these were the king' s high-roads. 

He probably used the services of the Canaanite 
natives, who were obliged as bondsmen to take 
part in this work. Heights were levelled, depths 
filled up, and stones removed. The roads were 
passable by carriages, which could proceed without 
hindrance from the south to the north, and the 
caravans passing from the Jordan to the sea could 
travel without difficulty. A chain of fortresses 
protected the roadways, and served as resting 
places. Besides these stations for riders and car- 
riages, Solomon also founded towns for storing 
goods ; these were also used to house the grain 
for future years of scarcity. 

Thus Solomon had settled the affairs of Israel, 
and had provided for its future security. He had 
no sharp-sighted counsellor, such as David had 
had in Ahithophel, to assist him in establishing 
order; his own wisdom was his sole counsellor. 
But he chose responsible officers, who gave effect 
to his instructions and carried out the plans which 
he organized. He established new offices, in 
order to extend his court. For the better recep- 
tion of strangers he had placed over his numerous 
household a major-domo (al-hab-Baith). Ahishar 
was the name of this officer. The twelve officials 
who provided for the wants of the household were 
supervised by a chief whose namewas Azariah-ben- 
Nathan. A high official, Adoniram, the son of 
Abda, was also placed (al-ham-Mas) over the many 
thousand bondsmen who worked in the streets and 


fortresses. Thus three high posts were newly 
created by Solomon. 

Its great extent and the riches which Solomon 
had amassed enabled the kingdom of Israel to 
hold its place amongst the greatest nations in the 
ancient world. Princes and nations who lived in 
strife with each other sought the aid of the ruler 
of this mighty dominion, and called upon him to 
act as arbitrator, for his wisdom was famed far 
and wide. The greatest blessing in Solomon's 
reign, was the peace and undisturbed quiet which 
obtained throughout the land. From Dan unto 
Beersheba the Israelites could peacefully enjoy 
their home, " every one under his own vine and 
under his own fig tree." 

The commercial treaties, the prosperity of the 
country, the security to life arising from the long 
peace existing in Solomon's reign, all contributed 
to attract the more distant surrounding tribes 
of Moabites, Ammonites, Idumseans, and even 
Egyptians into the country. It is also probable 
that the peculiar and higher religious culture of 
the Israelites when contrasted with the practices 
of idolatry, and the magnificent temple in Jeru- 
salem, induced the more enlightened foreigners 
to seek shelter under the *' wings of the God 
of Israel." The country, the people, and the 
God of Israel acquired a wide-spread renown 
in Solomon's time. The Israelite mariners, who 
visited so many harbours, coastlands, and marts, 
and the Israelite merchants who entered into 
connections with foreign parts, carried reports 
of their fatherland to the remotest climes and 
nations. The praise of the wise, mighty, and 
brilliant king Solomon was universally rung in 
his times. In the eyes of the world he elevated 
the name of the God whom he honoured, and 
to whose glory he had erected a magnificent 
temple. The Israelite sailors and merchants 

VOL. I. N 


became unconsciously the first messengers and 
pioneers of the Religion of Israel amongst the 
idolatrous nations. 

One day Jerusalem was surprised by a marvellous 
embassage. A wise queen, from the spice-bearing 
land of Sabia (Sheba), which is situated on the 
Arabian coast of the Red Sea, was about to visit 
Jerusalem. As she had heard so much of the 
greatness of Solomon and in praise of the God of 
Israel, she wished to see, with her own eyes, how 
much truth or falsehood lay in the reports which 
had come to her ears. She was received with 
marked attention by Solomon, and had many in- 
terviews with him. The queen (whom tradition 
calls Belkis) greatly admired his wisdom, and was 
much impressed with the temple which he had 
erected to God, and with the brilliancy of his court. 
It is said that she asked him enigmatic riddles in 
order to test his powers, and these he answered in 
a manner which excited her astonishment. 

Solomon's brilliant rule, however, became the 
source of a serious division amongst the tribes 
which he had so unavailingly striven to consoli- 
date into one indissoluble whole. Notwithstand- 
ing that the temple formed a bond of union to the 
whole people, and that Solomon had tried to abolish 
the tribal isolation which prevailed, he succeeded 
only in the case of Benjamin, which became more 
closely united with Judah. This was owing to the 
fact that the temple was built on Benjamite territory, 
and consequently several Benjamite families had 
settled in the capital. Probably Solomon also 
preferred the tribe of Benjamin and his ancestral 
tribe to the other tribes. The mutual dislike 
of the houses of Israel and Judah, or of the 
northern and southern tribes, had not ceased. 
Amongst the northern tribes a deep sense of 
discontent prevailed against Solomon, despite 
the height to which he had raised them ; they 


still resented the pressure put upon them to 
forward regular supplies for the court, and to per- 
form compulsory service in the erection of public 
buildings. Their discontent was not expressed 
aloud, but it only needed an opportunity for it to 
find free vent. Wise as Solomon was, he had not 
sufficient foresight to perceive that his faults were 
sure to weaken the future security of the State. 
Amongst the officials whom Solomon employed 
to supervise the buildings was an Ephraimite 
who was sensible, courageous and ambitious. 
This was Jeroboam the son of Nebat, from the 
town of Zereda or Zorathan, on the other side of 
the Jordan, and his mother was a widow. At an 
early age he was withdrawn from his home and was 
thus enabled to develop his energies without any 
counteracting influence. Jeroboam had supervised 
the erection of the walls of Jerusalem and had 
displayed great skill and firmness towards the 
bondsmen. Solomon was, in fact, so well pleased 
with him that he bestowed on him a high position 
in the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh. Here 
Jeroboam had the opportunity of becoming 
acquainted with the discontent of the people, which 
was probably strongest amongst the ever-discon- 
tented Ephraimites. The popular feeling accorded 
well with his ambitious plans, and he decided to 
utilise it when a favourable opportunity should 

Solomon was guilty of the folly of permitting 
sacrificial altars to be built for various idols. 
It may have been his foreign wives who induced 
him to make this concession, or perhaps it was due 
to the foreigners, the Phoenicians and other races, 
who had taken up their residence in Jerusalem and 
had received permission to worship their gods 
in the land of Israel according to their habitual 
custom. However this may have been, altars 
were raised on the Mount of Olives, even on its 

N 2 


highest points, in honour of Astarte of the Zldonians, 
Milcom of the Ammonites, Chemosh of the 
Moabites, and other idols. The religious strength 
of the nation was not so deeply rooted that the 
people could witness all kinds of idolatrous prac- 
tices without falling into the errors of idol-worship 
themselves. A prophet, Ahijah of Shiloh, had the 
courage to reprimand the king, and to warn him of 
the danger which his conduct rendered imminent. 
Solomon, however, seems to have given little heed 
to his representations, until the prophet, indig- 
nant at the king's obtuseness, determined to use 
Jeroboam (whose ambitious schemes he probably 
saw through) as the instrument of Solomon's 
destruction. When Jeroboam left Jerusalem, the 
prophet approached him, seized his garment, tore 
it into twelve pieces, and handing him ten of 
them he said, ** Take these ten pieces, they portray 
the ten tribes, which will separate themselves from 
the house of David, and recognise thee as their 
king.' ' Jeroboam wanted no further encouragement 
to mature his plans, since a prophet had commended 
them. He hurried to the territories of Ephraim, 
and called on the Ephraimites to separate them- 
selves from the house of David. Meanwhile 
Solomon had received tidings of the event, and 
before the revolution could spread, he sent his 
guards to kill the rebel. Jeroboam then fled to 
Egypt, where a new dynasty now occupied the 
throne. Shishak (Sheshenk, Sesonchosis, 980-959) 
was the first king of the new line. Under his rule 
was severed the bond which had united Israel 
and Egypt since Solomon's marriage with the 
Egyptian princess. Shishak in fact was inimical 
to the Israelite nation, which had become more 
powerful than was agreeable to him. He therefore 
received Jeroboam with kindness, intending to use 
him against Solomon. Shishak also gave a 
friendly reception and protection to an Idumsean 


prince, who had special reasons for avenging him- 
self on the Israelite nation. Hadad (or Adad) was 
a relation of the Idumaean king whom David had 
conquered. He had when a boy escaped the mas- 
sacre, instigated by Joab in consequence of a 
revolution in Idumaea. When Shishak ascended 
the throne, the Idumaean prince hurried to Egypt 
and was graciously received. Shishak gave him 
the queen's sister for a wife, and his first-born son 
(Genubath) grew up amongst the Egyptian princes. 
Hadad also acquired possessions in Egypt, and 
was honoured in every way ; notwithstanding this 
Hadad yearned to return to Edom, and to regain 
the territories which had been snatched away from 
him. He carried this desire into effect with the 
aid of Shishak, who was fully aware that the 
warlike spirit which had obtained under David 
and Joab, had diminished under Solomon's peaceful 
rule, and that a petty warfare in the mountainous 
districts could not do himself much harm and might 
be productive of great benefit. Hadad and the 
troops which he had mustered in Idumsea, did 
great damage to Solomon's caravans, which 
carried goods from the sea-shore to Elath, and 
thence to and fro from the Israelite boundaries ; and 
Solomon's warriors were powerless to prevent these 

Yet another cloud was gathering in the north 
unnoticed by Solomon, which threatened Israel with 
future destruction. One of the servants of King 
Hadadeser, named Rezon (of Zobah), whom David 
had overthrown, had taken to flight after the defeat 
of his sovereign ; he assembled a predatory troop, 
and made raids in the districts lying between the Eu- 
phrates and the northern branches of the Lebanon. 
Rezon' s troops gradually increased in numbers, and 
with their numbers grew his courage and power. At 
last he ventured to proceed against the ancient city 
of Damascus. He succeeded in capturing it and in 


having himself chosen king. Rezon also indulged 
in forays on the Israelites and their allies in the 
north without any opposition on the part of Solomon. 
He either had a dislike to war, or he had no troops 
available to combat the attacks from the north and 
south. Thus arose from small beginnings, powers 
inimical to Israel, which might easily have been 
crushed in the bud. Besides this, there was yet 
in store for Israel another internal breach in the 

Solomon, however, did not live to see the impend- 
ing evils and the decay of his kingdom carried into 
effect. He died in peace at the age of about sixty 
years (in 977). His body was buried in the rocky 
mausoleum of the kings which David had laid out 
in the south of Mount Zion, where he was no doubt 
interred with great pomp. It was said later on, that 
Solomon as well as his father had heaped up untold 
treasures and wealth in these vaults and cells, which 
were discovered many centuries after by the later 
Jewish kings. 

Although Solomon had numerous wives, it ap- 
pears that he left but few children, a son named Re- 
hoboam and two daughters, Taphath and Basmath, 
whom their father married to two of his officers. 
Posterity which has greatly exaggerated Solo- 
mon's wisdom and mental faculties, also attributed 
to him the power over mystic spirits and demons, 
who obeying his will, could be invoked or dis- 
pelled as he chose. Even a ring on which his 
name was engraven was supposed to exercise a 
mighty spell over the demons, and keep them in 

The power to which Solomon had elevated Israel 
resembled that of a magic world built up by spirits. 
The spell was broken at his death. 



Accession of Rehoboam — Jeroboam's return — The King at Shechem 
— The Secession of the Ten Tribes' — Election of Jeroboam — New 
Alliances — Rezon and Shishak — Fortification of Shechem — 
Jeroboam's idolatry — Ahijah's rebuke — Religion in Judah — 
Abijam — Asa — Nadab — Baasha — Wars between Asa and 
Baasha — Defeat of Zerah — Benhadad — Elah — Zimri — Omri — 
Civil war — Samaria built — Omri's policy — Alliances with Eth- 
baal and Tyre — Ahab : his character — Jezebel — The Priests of 
Baal — Elijah — Naboth's vineyard^Elijah at Carmel — War with 
Benhadad — Death of Ahnb and Jehoshaphat — Ahaziah's Acces- 
sion— Jehoram — Elijah and Elisha — Jehu — Death of Jezebel. 

977—887 B.C. 

For the first time since the monarchical government 
had been established in Israel, the next heir to 
the throne could succeed without disturbance or 
contest. Rehoboam, more fortunate than his father 
and grandfather, found himself when he ascended 
the throne, ruler over a mighty and important 
country. Many nations bowed in allegiance to him, 
and he could indulge in golden dreams of power 
and happiness. His undisturbed accession was 
perhaps owing to the fact that he had no brother, 
or that Solomon's strict laws regarding private 
property had also extended to the rights of suc- 
cession. Be that as it may, Rehoboam ascended 
the throne of his father without opposition. In fact, 
disputed accessions between brothers, such as had 
been the case at the death of David, were not 
of frequent occurrence in Jerusalem. Nor would 
Rehoboam have been equal to such contests. He 
by no means resembled his father, but was greatly 
his inferior in mental ability. Like all princes who, 
born in the purple, have no occasion to display very 


Striking characteristic features, he was thoughtless, 
haughty, and at the same time so wanting in self- 
reliance that he could not decide for himself. He 
had neither martial abilities nor an appreciation for 
what was great. The throne was to him the ideal 
of power, peace, and enjoyment of life's pleasures. 
This dream was but of short duration, and his 
awakening was speedy. He was unexpectedly con- 
fronted with an enemy who robbed him of power 
and peace, and who caused a breach in the state of 
Israel which could never again be healed. 

Jeroboam, the Ephraimite who had raised the flag 
of rebellion in the last years of Solomon's reign, and 
who, on the failure of his attempt, had fled to Egypt, 
returned to his native land immediately on receipt 
of the news of Solomon's death. He thought to 
recommence his ambitious schemes, as they had 
been approved by a prophet. Probably his pro- 
tector, Shishak, the king of Egypt, assisted 
him and permitted him to proceed by sea to the 
Israelite port. No sooner had this bold Ephraimite 
arrived in Shechem, the second city of importance in 
the kingdom, than the Shechemites, ever ready for 
sedition, began a revolt. Jeroboam was invited to 
join the meeting of the people, or rather he insti- 
gated the holding of such an assembly in order to 
consider the steps necessary to attain the desired 
end without bloodshed. 

The elders of other tribes were likewise invited 
to take part in the projects of the Shechemites, 
and thus their rebellious undertaking assumed the 
dimensions of a combined declaration of the will 
of the nation. It was first of all decided that the 
elders of the tribes should not, as heretofore, repair 
to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the new 
king, but that he should be invited to receive their 
allegiance at Shechem. This was the first step in 
the rebellion. Rehoboam determined to accept their 
invitation, but probably he did so unwillingly and in 


the expectation that his presence would put a stop 
to any intended insurrection. It was a momentous 
time, and fraught with wide-spread results for the 
kingdom of Israel. 

Rehoboam was accompanied to Shechem by his 
council, consisting of the elder members who 
had served his father, and of younger members 
whom he himself had selected. In order to provide 
for all cases, he took with him Adoniram, the over- 
seer of the slaves, whose angry glance and cane 
kept the unwilling labourers in submission. When 
Rehoboam arrived in Shechem, the representa- 
tives of the tribes came before him in order to 
explain their grievances. Jeroboam, who had been 
chosen as their mouthpiece, placed the position of 
the nation before the king in strong language : 
'' Thy father put a heavy yoke on the people and 
made them submit to heavy burdens. If thou wilt 
lighten this heavy yoke we will submit to thee." 
Struck by this bold language, Rehoboam concealed 
his anger as best he could, and told them to return 
for his reply in three days. He knew not what 
answer to give the representatives of the tribes. 
He therefore consulted his council. The elders 
were unanimously for a mild treatment, the younger 
men for severity, and the unwise king followed the 
advice of the latter. When on the third day Jero- 
boam and the elders came to him for his answer, 
he replied in words which he thought would annihi- 
late them : *' My little finger is stronger than my 
father's loins. If he scourged you with rods, I 
will scourge you with scorpions." Jeroboam had 
expected and reckoned on no other reply. Turning 
to the elders he said, ** What share have we in 
David, and what inheritance in the son of Jesse ? 
Return to your tents, O Israel, and thou, David, see 
to thine own house !" Jeroboam then unfurled the 
standard of rebellion and assembled theShechemites, 
who willingly mustered around him in order to 


display their enmity towards Rehoboam. All the 
jealousy and hatred that the Ephraimites had 
cherished during the reigns of David and Solomon 
on account of the oppression and supposed humili- 
ation to which they had to submit, now burst forth. 
They seized the opportunity to free themselves from 
the yoke of David and to place themselves, as they 
had done in the days of the Judges, at the head of 
the tribes. Sword in hand the Shechemites, headed 
by Jeroboam, attacked the house in which Reho- 
boam dwelt. He sent Adoniram, the overseer of 
the slaves, to chastise the ringleaders like rebel- 
lious slaves. A hail of stones overpowered him, 
and he sank lifeless to the ground. Rehoboam, 
whose life was in danger, took flight from Shechem 
in his chariot and reached Jerusalem, leaving a 
breach which no one could heal. 

Indignant and dispirited as Rehoboam felt at the 
turn affairs had taken in Shechem, he felt himself 
obliged to ascertain how far he could count on the 
fidelity of the nation before taking any fresh steps. 
What should he do if the tribes nearest to the capital, 
led away by the example of the Shechemites, should 
also renounce their allegiance to him ? Where 
would the secession end ? From this care, however, 
he was soon freed. The tribe of Judah, which was 
intimately connected with the house of David and 
considered that house its most precious ornament, 
remained faithful to Rehoboam. The tribe of 
Simeon was merely a subsidiary of that of Judah, 
and could not be considered independent. The 
tribe of Benjamin also remained faithful to Reho- 
boam. It was closely connected with that of 
Judah, and its fortunes could no longer be parted. 
There were more Benjamites than Judaeans living 
in Jerusalem. These tribes, then, held with Reho- 
boam. No sooner was he aware that two or three 
tribes would remain true to him, than he naturally 
entertained the idea of compelling the Shechemites 


and Ephralmites to return to their allegiance by- 
means of the sword, and he would no doubt have 
succeeded had not Jeroboam taken measures to 
turn the secession to the greatest advantage. He 
impressed on the Ephraimites that a king alone 
could ensure their safety from Rehoboam's attacks, 
and that by no other means could they escape the 
severe punishment which would await them as 
insurgents. They then determined to set up an 
opposition king. Who would be more suited for 
this post than Jeroboam? He alone possessed the 
needful courage and skill, and he was an Ephraimite. 
The elders of Ephraim therefore assembled, and 
with the adhesion of the remaining tribes, chose 
him as king. The other tribes therefore paid homage 
to Jeroboam, possibly because they also had griev- 
ances against the house of David and could expect 
no redress from Rehoboam. Thus the man who 
had risen from nothing in Zereda became king over 
ten tribes (977-955), including the two tribes of 
Manasseh — for so it was accounted — on the two 
boundaries Machir and Gilead. 

Jeroboam's territory thus comprised the ten 
tribes. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon 
alone remained attached to the house of David. 
The two last named tribes, however, had no 
separate existence, but were merged into the 
tribe of Judah. The house of Israel, which had 
been joined with the house of Judah for barely a 
century, was thus again divided from it. Both 
kings endeavoured to secure themselves from ex- 
ternal attacks, and to avoid a constant state of 
armed preparation by forming alliances, and thus 
breaking the power of foreign nations. Rehoboam 
entered into a treaty with the newly elected king 
of Damascus, the state founded by Rezon the 
bandit in Solomon's time having attained great 
power. Rezon, or his successor Tabrimon, had 
united various Aramaean districts to Damascus, 


and ruled over an extensive territory. The treaty 
between Rehoboam and the king of Damascus 
prevented Jeroboam from attacking the kingdom 
of Judah, and pursuing It with the horrors of a 
long-enduring war. Jeroboam therefore formed an 
alliance with another power In order to exasperate 
and alarm the king of Judah. 

A union of the two kingdoms was distasteful 
to both, and the difference In their histories 
prevented their coalescing. The house of Israel, 
especially the tribe of Ephralm, willingly re- 
linquished the advantages which might accrue 
from a union with the house of David in order 
that they might not relapse Into an Inferior 
position. The more worthy In both kingdoms 
were probably filled with grief at the breach which 
had occurred, but they were unable to counteract 
its effects. The civil war which appeared imminent 
was stopped by the prophet Shemaiah, who called 
on the Judseans and Benjamltes in God's name to 
desist. Slight skirmishes, however, broke out be- 
tween the contiguous kingdoms, as was unavoid- 
able between such near neighbours, but they led 
to no serious result. 

Jeroboam was unceasingly aided In his am- 
bitious plans by Shishak (Sheshenk), whom he is 
said to have married to his wife's elder sister Ano; 
another sister he had given In marriage to the 
Idumsean prince who had taken refuge with him. 
Shishak probably furnished him with the supplies 
of money to enable him to return to his fatherland, 
and Jeroboam seems to have formed an alliance 
with him adverse to Judah. Thus Rehoboam was 
prevented from undertaking any noteworthy steps 
against Israel. In order to secure himself from 
Egyptian and Israelite attacks, Rehoboam erected 
a chain of fortresses round the town in a circle 
which it took several hours to traverse. But they 
failed him in the hour of need. Shishak undertook 


a war against Rehoboam in the fifth year of his 
reign (972) with an overwhelming force. Over- 
come by excess of numbers the strongholds were 
taken one after another by the Egyptian armies, 
and Shishak pressed forward as far as Jerusalem. 
It appears that the capital yielded without a 
struggle and the Egyptian king contented himself 
with seizing the treasures which Solomon had de- 
posited in the palace and temple. He appropriated 
all the money, which was then in Jerusalem, as well 
as the golden shields and spears with which the 
king's guards accompanied him in procession to 
the temple. He, however, left the kingdom of 
Judah intact, did not even touch the walls of Jeru- 
salem, and left Rehoboam on his throne. On his 
return, Shishak commemorated his deeds of prowess 
and his victories over Judah and other districts by 
records and monuments. In the ruins of a temple 
at Thebes, which is still preserved, the figures 
may be seen of decayed bodies, which may be 
recognised as prisoners by the cord slung round 
their necks. The alliance between Solomon 
and the king of Egypt was thus of but short 
duration. His son learned the futility of such a 
treaty, and experienced how little trust could be 
placed in plans and political measures apparently 
the outcome of the deepest calculation and fore- 
thought. Solomon had acted thoughtlessly in 
spite of his wisdom, in regard to the union with 
the daughter of Pharaoh. He had built her a 
special palace, and within a few years of his 
decease, an Egyptian king ransacked the palace 
and other buildings commemorative of Solomon, 
and plundered them of all their treasures. The 
grandeur and power of Solomoft's kingdom was 
at an end. 

Jeroboam fortified Shechem and built himself a 
palace, which served also as a citadel (Armon) for 
purposes of defence. On the opposite side of the 


Jordan, he also fortified various towns ; amongst 
others, Penuel (or Peniel) which might serve as a 
rampart against the attacks on the southern side, 
from Jabbok, for the Moabites and Ammonites, 
in consequence of what had taken place, had 
separated themselves from the Israelites in the 
same way as the Idumaeans had divided them- 
selves from the Judaeans. Jeroboam was also ob- 
liged to help himself out of his difficulties by 
instituting changes. Guided either by habit or con- 
viction, the families of the northern tribes continued 
to present themselves at Jerusalem in the autumn 
at the harvest time, in order to take part in the 
service of the invisible God. This clinging 
of a part of the nation to the Jewish capital 
was a source of great trouble to Jeroboam. 
How would it be if the people turned in greater 
numbers to the temple in Jerusalem, and if it 
made its peace with the house of David ? Would 
he not be dethroned as quickly as he had attained 
to royalty ? In order to avoid the possibility of 
such a fall, Jeroboam matured a wicked plan, 
which caused Israel to fall back into the ways of 
idolatry and barbarity. 

Jeroboam had learnt the system of worship cus- 
tomary in Egypt during his protracted stay in 
that country, and had observed that the worship of 
animals and particularly of the bull, was highly 
conducive to the advantage of the ruler. He had 
observed that this animal worship served to stultify 
the nation, and Jeroboam thought he might turn 
to his own purposes a system so politic and advan- 
tageous. He therefore consulted his advisers for 
devising a plan by which these observances should 
be introduced amongst the Ten Tribes. He con- 
sidered that this idol-worship might be of advan- 
tage to him in other ways, as it would keep him 
in favour with the court of Egypt. Israel would ap- 
pear as a dependency of Egypt, and both countries, 


having common religious observances and customs, 
would also have interests in common. The habits 
of Egypt were of interest to him as his wife was 
probably an Egyptian and connected with the 
royal house of Egypt. Jeroboam also studied 
the convenience of the tribes, he wished to relieve 
those who lived far off from the necessity of mak- 
ing long journeys at the time of harvest. When 
the young bull-calves had been erected, Jeroboam 
ordered a proclamation to the effect: *' This is 
thy God, O Israel, who brought thee out of 
Egypt." In Bethel, where he himself intended to 
preside at the worship, he built a large temple 
in which he also caused a sacrificial altar to 
be erected. To prevent the people celebrating 
the Feast of Ingathering at Jerusalem, he fixed the 
festival a month later (in the eighth instead of the 
seventh month). Probably also a different reckon- 
ing was followed according to the longer solar, 
instead of the shorter lunar year. 

The nation, as a whole, appears to have taken 
no offence at this alteration, but to have actually 
regarded it as a revival of the ancient mode of 
worship. The fundamental principle, the unity of 
God, was in no way affected by it. Jeroboam had 
not attempted to introduce polytheism, but had 
merely given them incarnations of the Deity to 
symbolize strength and fruitfulness. The people, 
naturally sensual, were better pleased to have the 
Godhead physically before them, as the spirituality 
of God, represented by no ocular demonstration, 
was at that period more remote from their com- 
prehension than the fact of His unity. Sensual 
dissipations and depravity were not bound up with 
the worship of the bull as they had been with the 
Canaanite observances of Baal, and therefore they 
were not revolting to morality. 

Thus the people gradually became accustomed to 
repair to Bethel or Dan for the high feasts ; other- 


wise they made their offerings at home, or at the 
nearest sacrificial place that remained from olden 
times. Jeroboam fully attained his object ; the 
nation became stultified, and bowed to him in ser- 
vile obedience. The tribe of Levi, however, caused 
him anxiety. No Levite would consent to perform 
the office of priest at the worship of the bull ; for 
Samuel's prophetic teachings had made a lasting 
impression on this tribe. That Jeroboam might 
not compel their services, the Levites, who had been 
living in the Israelite towns, wandered forth, and 
settled in the kingdom of Judah, refusing to take 
part in the sacrifices and religious ceremonies. 
Now the priests had deserted him, and by refusing 
to participate in his arrangements had signified 
their disapproval. As he could not possibly manage 
without priests, he took any one who offered him- 
self to serve in that capacity. At one festival he 
himself performed the priestly office, in order to 
elevate it in the eyes of the people, or perhaps 
in imitation of the Egyptian custom. Jeroboam 
was thus led step by step to destroy the original 
principles of Judaism. 

This conduct was not allowed to pass uncon- 
demned. The old prophet, Ahijah, of Shiloh, who 
had incited Nebat's ambitious son to insurrec- 
tion, now lifted his voice against these proceed- 
ings. When, however, Jeroboam's wife visited 
him at Shiloh, to consult him about the dangerous 
illness of her eldest son, the prophet took the 
opportunity of announcing to her the approaching 
dissolution of the royal house. Meanwhile, Jero- 
boam could no longer control events so as to be 
re-united with the house of David. From motives 
of self-preservation, he was obliged to continue in 
the way he had chosen. The new worship was 
therefore retained during the existence of the king- 
dom of the Ten Tribes, and none of Jeroboam's suc- 
cessors attempted to make any alteration in its form. 


In the kingdom of Judah (or House of Jacob), 
matters had not yet arrived at so distressing a 
pitch. Politically weakened by the severance of 
the tribes and the incursions of Egypt under Shi- 
shak, its wounds were too deep to heal without the 
lapse of a considerable time. But Judah had not 
sunk in religion or morals. Rehoboam appears to 
have troubled himself but little concerning reli- 
gious or moral conditions; he was indifferent in 
every respect, and his pride, having once received 
a blow, he seems to have passed his days in idleness. 
But the temple on the one hand, and the Levites 
on the other, appear to have counteracted the 
imminent sources of deterioration. Outwardly all 
remained as it had been in the time of Solomon ; 
the High Altars (Bamoth) remained in existence, 
on which families might perform the sacrificial rites 
throughout the year, but at the autumn festivals the 
people repaired to the temple. A breach of the es- 
tablished order of divine service proved exceptional, 
and was restricted to the circle of court ladies. As 
Solomon permitted altars to be erected for his 
heathen wives, Rehoboam did not feel called upon 
to be more severe in his enactments. His mother 
Maachah, the daughter or granddaughter of Absa- 
lom, had a predilection for the immoral Canaanite 
worship ; she erected a statue of Astarte in her 
palace, and maintained temple priestesses. Reho- 
boam permitted all this, but the unholy innovations 
did not spread very widely. Meanwhile, although 
idolatrous practices did not gain ground in the 
kingdom of Judah, there was no impulse towards 
a higher stage of moral culture under Rehoboam' s 
government. A national weakness seemed to come 
over the people, as if they were in the last stage of 
senility. Nearly two centuries elapsed before traces 
of a higher spiritual force became evident. Reho- 
boam' s reign of seventeen years was inglorious. The 
reign of his son Abijam (960-958) passed in a like 

VOL. I. o 


manner. He also Indulged in petty acts of hostility 
against Jeroboam, but without any important result. 
He, too, permitted the idolatrous practices of his 
mother Maachah. Abijam, it appears, died young, 
leaving no issue, and he was therefore succeeded by 
his brother Asa (957-918). He again was a m'inor, 
and the queen mother Maachah held the reins of 
government. At first she seems to have desired to 
extend her idolatrous and immoral worship, but a 
revolution in the kingdom of Judah put an end to 
her projects, and changed the course of events. 

Nadab, who had succeeded to the throne on the 
death of Jeroboam (955-954), undertook a war 
against the Philistines, and besieged the Danite city 
of Gibbethon, which the Philistines had occupied. 
During this campaign a soldier of the name of 
Baescha (Baasha) conspired against the king in 
the camp and killed him. From the camp Baasha 
proceeded to the capital, Tirzah, and destroyed the 
whole house of Jeroboam (954). The founder of 
this dynasty had not been anointed by the prophet ; 
he was not considered inviolable, like Saul and 
David, and therefore the hand of the murderer 
was not restrained. Baasha was the first of the 
line of regicides amongst the Ten Tribes, and his 
act hastened the fate impending over the nation. 

Having perpetrated the murder, he took pos- 
session of the throne and kingdom (954-933). 
He considered Tirzah the capital, on account 
of its central position. It lay in the very midst 
of the kingdom, and possessed the further advan- 
tage of fortifications. Had Baasha set aside the 
worship of the bull, he might have drawn to his 
side the worthier portion of the people of Judah. 
The latter were probably indignant at the idola- 
trous innovations of Maachah, which were the 
more reprehensible, as they were combined with 
the depraved habits of the temple priestesses. In 
Jerusalem a tear appears to have arisen lest this 

CH. X. BAASHA. 195 

worship should spread ; but Asa hastened to avert 
the calamity. Either on his own impulse, or 
actuated by one of the prophets, he snatched 
the reins of government from the hands of the 
queen-mother, forbade the worship of Astarte, re- 
moved the priestesses, and burnt the disgusting- 
picture which had been erected for worship in 
the valley of Kedron. Through these decisive 
acts Asa secured for himself the good-will of 
the better disposed of his people. The old in- 
conclusive feuds arose between Asa and Baasha, 
and their respective kingdoms. Asa is said to 
have acquired several cities of Ephraim, and to 
have incorporated them in his own kingdom. In 
order to secure himself in safety from Judah, 
Baasha seems to have entered into a league 
with the king of Egypt, and to have urged him 
to carry war into the lands of his own foe. An 
Egyptian general named Zerah (Osorkon) sallied 
forth with a numerous body of Ethiopians, and 
pressed forwards as far as Mareshah, about ten 
leagues south-west of Jerusalem. Asa, however, 
marched against him with his combined forces, 
defeated the Ethiopian army north of Mareshah, 
pursued it as far as Gerar, and brought back an 
enormous booty to Jerusalem. 

Baasha was disconcerted by these proceed- 
ings, and endeavoured to consolidate an alliance 
w^th the Aramaean king, Ben-hadad I., of Damas- 
cus, who as a friend of the kingdom of Judah, had 
heretofore proved an obstacle to all inimical attacks. 
Ben-hadad, the son of Tabrimon, now cancelled 
his treaty with Asa, and went over to Baasha' s 
side. He first conquered Ramah, the birth-place 
and residence of the prophet Samuel, which be- 
longed to the Benjamites, and fortified it so that 
it served as a base whence to make raids on the 
neighbouring districts. Alarmed at these doings, 
Asa endeavoured, to revive the treaty with the 

o 2 


king of Damascus, and sent ambassadors to 
him, with quantities of treasure in silver and 
gold, which he took both from the Temple 
and his palaces. Ben-hadad allowed himself 
to be won over; It flattered him to be thus 
sought after by the Israelites, to whom he had 
formerly been obliged to pay tribute. He resolved 
to utilize the weakness of both sides, and he com- 
manded an army to effect an entrance into the 
north of the kingdom of Israel ; he subjugated Ijon, 
Dan, and the contiguous region of Abel-beth- 
maachah ; and also reduced the district around 
the Tiberias, and the mountainous lands of the 
tribe of Naphtali. Asa was thus saved at the 
expense of his brother nation ; and Baasha was 
forced to abandon his desire for conquest, and 
to relinquish the possession of Ramah. 

Asa now summoned all the men capable of bear- 
ing arms to assist in the destruction of the fortifi- 
cations of Ramah. The death of Baasha, which 
occurred soon after this (in 933), and a revolution 
which ensued, left Asa free from menace on that side. 
Mizpah, a town lying very high in a favourable situa- 
tion, was made into an important citadel by Asa. 
He also built a deep and roomy cistern in the rocks, 
in order to have stores of water in case of a siege. 

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
terrible events were happening, which were pro- 
ductive of a change to both kingdoms. Baasha 
was succeeded by his son Elah (933-932). He was ^ 
addicted to idleness and drunkenness. Whilst his 
warriors were engaged in battle with the Philistines 
and were attacking Gibbethon, he passed his days 
in drinking bouts. This circumstance was taken 
advantage of by Simri (Zimri), his servant and 
the commander of one-half of the war-chariots, 
which had remained behind in Tirzah. Whilst 
Elah was dissipating in the house of the cap- 
tain of his palace, Zimri killed him (in 932), at 


the same time destroying the entire house of 
Baasha and not even sparing his friends. He 
then as a matter of course, ascended the throne, 
but his reign was of the shortest ; it only lasted one 
week. No sooner had the news of the king's 
murder reached the army, then besieging Gibbethon, 
than they elected the Israelite general Omri, as 
king. He repaired to the capital, but finding the 
gates closed against him, laid siege to the city and 
effected a breach in the wall. When Zimri dis- 
covered that he was lost, in anticipation of a dis- 
graceful end he set fire to the palace and perished 
in the flames. He was the third amongst five 
kings of Israel, who had died an unnatural death, 
and only two of them had been buried in the 
mausoleum for the kings erected by Jeroboam. A 
fourth king was soon to be added to the list. Omri, 
a warrior, expected to obtain the empty throne forth- 
with, but he met with opposition. One part of the 
population of the capital had chosen another king, 
Tibni the son of Ginath ; he was probably a native 
of the city. Thus two parties were formed in the 
capital, and the streets were no doubt deluged with 
their blood. A civil war was the only thing wanting 
in the domains of Ephraim to make the measure 
of misery full to overflowing. For three years the 
partisan conflict was raging (932-928); at length the 
party of Omri gained the upper hand. Tibni was 
killed, and Omri remained sole ruler (928). He, 
however, felt ill at ease in Tirzah ; the palace had 
been burnt since the death of Zimri, and distur- 
bances had no doubt arisen from the protracted 
anarchy. The conquered party was hostile to him, 
and Omri therefore transferred the seat of the 
empire to another town. He could not select 
Shechem, as the restless and rebellious spirit of the 
inhabitants would not permit him to live in safety, 
and there was no other important town situated in 
the midst of the country. Omri therefore deter- 


mined to build a new capital. A hill, surmounted 
by a tableland, a few hours north-west of Shechem, 
seemed to him the fittest spot. He bought it of 
its owner, Shemer, erected buildings, a palace and 
other houses, fortified it and called it Shomron 
(Samaria). Whence did he obtain inhabitants for 
the newly founded city? He probably adopted a 
course similar to David's in the case of Jerusalem, 
and caused the warriors attached to his cause to 
settle there. A year after his victory over the 
opposition king, Omri left Tirzah and removed 
to Samaria, which was destined to become the rival 
of Jerusalem for a space of two hundred years, 
and then after two centuries of desertion to 
revive, and once more wage war against Judah and 
Jerusalem. Samaria inherited in a tenfold degree 
the hatred of Shechem against Jerusalem. The 
new city gave its name to the kingdom of Ten 
Tribes, and the land was thence called the land of 

Omri, the first king of Samaria, was neither a 
strong nor a warlike leader, but he was a wise 
man. The crown which he had acquired, more 
through the force of circumstances than through 
his own force of will, did not satisfy him. He 
wished to make his court and his people great, 
respected and wealthy, and he hoped that the 
prosperity of the days of Solomon might be re- 
stored to Israel. It is true that the nation was 
divided, and thereby weakened. But was it 
necessary that war must always be carried on be- 
tween the two portions, and that the sword must 
destroy them ? Connected as they were through 
tribal relations and common interests, could they 
not be peacefully united, and thus become again 
amalgamated ? 

Omri endeavoured, in the first place, to make 
peace with the representative of the royal house 
of David, and to impress on him the advantages to 

CH. X. OMRI. 199 

both of them of pursuing an amicable policy. They, 
might in that way obtain their former sway over 
the countries which had been once tributary to 
them. For a long time friendly relations were 
actually established between the two kingdoms ; 
and they supported, instead of opposing each other. 
Omri cherished to a great, perhaps even to a too 
great degree, the aspiration for a friendly alliance 
with Phoenicia. He desired that a part of the riches 
which their extensive maritime expeditions and 
trade introduced into their country, might also 
flow into his own kingdom. At this time various 
kings had waded to the throne in Tyre through the 
slaughter of their predecessors, until at length 
Ethbaal (Ithobal), a priest of Astarte, ascended the 
throne, after the murder of his predecessor Phalles. 
The disastrous occurrences in Phoenicia had greatly 
weakened the land. The great families had been 
compelled to en igrate, and had founded colonies on 
the north coast of Africa. The kingdom of Da- 
mascus, which had acquired great power, sought 
to obtain possession of the fruitful coast-line of 
Phoenicia ; Ethbaal therefore, had to strengthen 
himself by means of alliances. The kingdom of 
Ten Tribes was nearest to him. 

Omri and Ethbaal therefore had mutual interests, 
and formed a treaty of. offence and defence. The 
league desired by both powers was secured by an 
intermarriage. Omri's son Ahab married Ethbaal' s 
daughter Jezebel (Jezabel or Isebel), a marriage 
which was fraught with disastrous consequences for 
the world. 

Omri, fortified by this alliance, could now venture 
to think of undertaking warlike expeditions. He 
captured several towns from Moab, which had 
emancipated itself under Jeroboam's rule, and com- 
pelled it to become once more tributary. He forced 
the Moabites to send herds of oxen and rams every 
year as tribute. As, however, a sort of alliance 


existed between Moab and Aram, and an increase 
to Israel's power was watched by Aram with a 
jealous eye, the Aramaean king of Damascus, Ben- 
hadad I., declared war against Omri and recovered 
some of the cities he had taken. Omri was forced 
to accept peace with Ben-hadad on hard terms, 
and bound himself to open the caravan-roads 
through the kingdom of Israel and to allow a free 
passage through the land. 

Omri therefore entered into a close alliance with 
the kingdom of Tyre and pursued the plan of assimi- 
lating his people to their Canaanite neighbours. 
Why should he endeavour to keep Israel separate 
from the surrounding peoples ? Would it not be 
wiser and better to permit the kingdom of Ten Tribes 
to assume a Phoenician or Tyrian character ? United 
as they were in language and customs, might not 
the two races become more closely welded together 
if the Phoenician form of worship were introduced 
into the kingdom of Israel ? Omri led the way to 
this union. He introduced the service of Baal and 
Astarte as the acknowledged mode of worship ; he 
built a temple for Baal in his capital of Samaria, 
ordained priests and commanded that sacrifices 
should be universally made to the Phoenician idols. 
He desired that the worship of the bull as observed 
in Bethel and Dan, should be abolished. It seemed 
to him as too distinctly Israelite in character, and 
as likely to maintain the division between the Israel- 
ites and Phoenicians. Whether Jehovah was adored 
with or without a visible image. He was still in too 
striking a contrast to the Tyrian Baal or Adonis 
for Omri to permit His worship to remain. Omri's 
innovations were of far greater import than those 
of Jeroboam ; or, to speak in the language of the 
Bible, he acted yet more sinfully than his prede- 
cessors. He desired to rob the nation of its God 
and of its origin ; he desired it to forget that it 
had a special nationality in contradistinction to 

CH. X. AHAB. * 20 1 

that of the idolaters. History has not recorded 
how these changes were received. His son Ahab 
(922-901) was destined to continue the work, as 
though it had been left to him by his father as a 
bequest. In furtherance of this project he naturally 
kept up the close connection with Tyre and with the 
king of Judah. 

But the execution of a heritage which imposes 
the severest attacks on the inner convictions of man 
is, notwithstanding the best will of the successor, 
dependent on circumstances or a providence on 
which the wisest mind cannot reckon. Two kinds 
of obstacles intervened to prevent the Canaanisation 
of the Ten Tribes. The one was Ahab's disposition, 
and the other arose from an unexpected cause which 
weakened, if it did not entirely destroy, the effect of 
the terrible blow aimed at religion. In order to ac- 
complish this transformation of the people into a 
mere appanage of Phoenicia, and the consequent loss 
of its own identity, the successor of Omri would need 
a powerful mind, an unbending will, and an unyield- 
ing severity to crush all opposition with a strong 
hand. Ahab was however of an entirely opposite 
nature — weak, mild, loving peace and comfort, 
rather disposed to avoid changes and obstacles 
than to seek or remove them. Had it only rested 
with him, he would have abandoned his father's 
system and given himself to such enjoyments as the 
royal power permitted him, regardless of what the 
future might bring. Ahab was not even warlike ; 
he permitted the neighbouring kings to treat him 
in a manner which would have excited the indigna- 
tion of a king with any feelings of honour, and have 
roused him to the most determined opposition. 
But just as he was forced against his desire and 
inclination to enter into a contest with his am- 
bitious neighbours, he was also compelled to place 
himself in conflict with the Israelite nation. His 
father had given him a wife in every way his 


Opposite, with a strong manly will, who was deter- 
mined to gain her ends even through severity and 

Jezebel, the Phoenician princess, whose father had 
filled the post of priest to Astarte before he obtained 
the throne, was filled with an enthusiastic eagerness 
to carry out the plan of Canaanising the people of 
Israel. Whether from a perverted idea or from 
political considerations, she desired to amalgamate 
the Israelite people with her own country and to 
form but one nation of the Tyrians and Israelites. 
She continued the work commenced by Omri with 
energy and mercilessness, and led her weak-minded 
husband into every kind of oppressive and un- 
righteous action. JezebeFs gloomy and obstinate 
character, with her uncontrollable energy, was the 
cause of a ferment and commotion in the kingdom 
of the Ten Tribes, which led to disastrous results, 
but which like a destroying storm performed the 
beneficent service of clearing the atmosphere. 
Jezebel's first step was to build a great temple to 
Baal in the capital of Samaria. In such a temple, 
there were three altars, images, and monuments, 
which were dedicated to a sort of holy trinity; 
to Baal, his consort Astarte, and the god of fire or 
destruction (Moloch Chammon). For this worship, 
Jezebel introduced into the country a host of priests 
and prophets (450 for Baal, and 400 for Astarte), 
who were supported at the charge of the royal 
house and who dined at the queen's table. These 
priests devoted part of their energies to attend- 
ing to the sacrificial rites in ' Samaria, whilst 
others rushed madly through the country, bring- 
ing their disorderly habits into the cities and 
villages. The Phoenician priests or prophets attired 
themselves in women's apparel, painted their faces 
and eyes like women, had their arms bare to the 
shoulder, and carried swords and axes, scourges, 
castanets, pipes, cymbals and drums. Dancing and 

cH.x. Jezebel's influence. 203 

wailing they whirled round in a circle, bowed their 
heads in turn to the ground and dragged their 
hair through the mud. They also bit their arms 
and cut their bodies with swords and knives till 
the blood ran, and provided an offering for 
their blood-thirsty goddess. In their madness, 
temple priestesses (Kedeshoth), who followed their 
shameful pursuit in honour of Astarte, and for the 
benefit of the priests, were also most probably not 
wanting. By means of this troop of priests of Baal 
and ecstatic followers of Astarte, Jezebel hoped 
to wean the Israelite people from the God of its 
fathers and to carry into effect the plan of entirely 
transforming the national character. At the head 
of the Phoenician priesthood, there was a high 
priest, who probably gave instructions and com- 
mands as to how they were to proceed in their 
labours. In the first place, the altars dedicated 
to God were destroyed and others erected in 
the Canaanite fashion, with pointed pillars, the 
symbols of a disgraceful cult, the meaning of 
which has not been preserved to posterity. The 
altars in Bethel and Dan were, no doubt, trans- 
formed in a similar manner. It was intended that 
the sacrifice-loving nation, for want of altars of 
its own, should bring its offerings to the temples 
of Baal and of Astarte, and thus become 
accustomed to this mode of worship. How 
easy it is to force a nation to give up its 
usages and peculiarities, and to accept those of 
strangers, if the rulers act with subtlety and force 
combined ! The Israelites in the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes had already been demoralised, owing 
to their half-century's separation from Jerusalem 
(the centre of intellectual activity), and to the bull- 
worship which they had long being practising. 
The cities had acquired a taste for luxury, and 
a love of dissipation, which the impure worship 
of Baal and Astarte only served to foster. The 


towns doubtless had, for the most part, yielded 
to the new state of things, or, in any case, had 
offered no opposition to it. Seven thousand indivi- 
duals alone remained firm, and would not pay 
homage to Baal, nor adore him with their lips. A 
part of the nation, amongst them the villagers, 
meanwhile wavered in their ideas and actions, and 
not knowing whether God or Baal was the mightier 
divinity, they worshipped the one publicly and 
the other secretly. It was a period of uncertainty 
and confusion, such as usually precedes an his- 
torical crisis. It had to be proved whether the 
ancient belief in the God of Israel, and the de- 
mands of holiness, had taken sufficiently deep root, 
and had acquired enough vitality and power to 
conquer opponents, and to eradicate what was 
foreign. In such a time a striking personality, 
in whom the better faith is innate, and who is 
entirely ruled by it, must give the word, and 
through his firmness, enthusiasm, and heroic self- 
sacrifice, must convince the waverers, strengthen 
the weak, incite the indifferent, and thus collect 
together an army of defenders who will rescue 
their own free will from the alienation which 
threatens it. When such an individual is roused 
by the very opposition of the enemy, and spurred 
on to action, he becomes a vivifying principle, 
and brings about a new state of things, a mingling 
of both the old and the new elements. Such an 
individual arose during this crisis in the person 
of the prophet Elijah (920-900). 

Whence came this energetic, all-subduing pro- 
phet ? In which tribe was his cradle ? Who was 
his father? This is not known. He was simply 
known as Elijahu (shortened into Elijah). He 
did not come from Gilead, from the remote part 
of the country, but belonged to those of the 
inhabitants who were only in part entitled to 
their possessions, to the Toshabim. He was of a 

CH. X. ELIJAH. 205 

violent nature, and was guided by no considera- 
tions of expediency ; he would not have hesitated 
to offer his life for his creed. He was considered 
by his successors as the incarnation of moral 
and religious fervour (kana). Like a tempest 
he made his entry, like a tempest he thundered 
out his execrations against the weak, woman-led 
Ahab ; like a tempest he rushed away, so that 
no one could seize him ; and in a tempest he 
disappeared from his scene of action. Elijah 
alone was imbued solely with the one thought — 
to preserve the belief in the God of Israel, which 
was passing away from the minds of the people. 
To this God he dedicated himself, and in His 
service he occupied his life. Elijah was out- 
wardly distinguishable by his peculiar dress. 
In contradistinction to the effeminate, luxurious 
dress of the worshippers of Baal and Astarte, he 
wore round his under garments a leather belt, 
and over it a black cloak made of skin, and he 
wore his hair long. He touched no wine, and 
established the institution of Nazirites who were 
not permitted to drink wine or to shave the hair 
of the head. In this costume and with these 
habits he appeared at first in Gilead, and there 
announced the creed which embraces so much, 
'* Jehovah alone is God." Here, where the Jordan 
offered a barrier against the swarms of the priests 
of Baal, and where the fear of Ahab and Jezebel 
could not strike terror into the heart, he found 
faithful adherents of the people of Israel. Amongst 
these Elijah probably found his first auditors and 
disciples, who were carried away by his enthu- 
siastic manner, and became his helpers. 

After a short interval, a body of prophets and 
their disciples (Bene-Nebiim) had collected to- 
gether, who were ready to give up their lives for 
their ancestral tenets. They also followed Elijah's 
way of living and became Nazirites. The condi- 


tions of this newly formed circle were to lead a 
simple life, not to dwell in cities where luxury and 
effeminacy ruled, but in village tents ; to drink no 
wine, to till no vineyards, to avoid agriculture 
generally, but, like the patriarchs and the tribes in 
earlier times, to live by tending flocks. Jonadab, 
son of Rechab, who doubtless was one of the fol- 
lowers of Elijah, had first established these rules 
for himself and his household. He impressed on 
his descendants the necessity of abstaining from 
wine, of building no fixed residence, of sowing 
no seed, and especially of planting no vineyard. 
Elijah had thus not only momentarily aroused and 
kindled the faith of a band of defenders for the 
ancient law, but he had opened for it a new future. 
He had opposed simplicity and self-restraint to 
degeneracy and love of pleasure. With his body 
of disciples he eagerly commenced action against 
the priests and prophets of Baal. He probably 
passed rapidly from place to place, called the 
populace together, and inspired them with his 
storm-like eloquence, the gist of which turned 
on the idea that Jehovah alone is God, and Baal 
and Astarte are only dumb, lifeless idols. He 
no doubt incited attacks on those priests of 
Baal who may have encountered him. Jezebel 
could not endure for long the machinations of the 
energetic Tishbite, as he interfered with her plans ; 
she sent her soldiers against Elijah's troop, and 
those who fell into her hands were mercilessly 
slaughtered. They were the first martyrs for the 
ancient Israelite law. Jezebel, the daughter of 
Ethbaal, the priest of Astarte, was the first perse- 
cutor of religion. Elijah himself, however, on whom 
Jezebel was specially anxious to wreak her ven- 
geance, could never be reached, but always escaped 
from the hands of his pursuers. His .zeal had 
already attained a far-spreading influence. Obadiah, 
the majordomo of Ahab's palace, was secretly 


attached to the ancient law. He, perhaps, had the 
task of persecuting the disciples of the prophet, and 
hid one hundred of them in two caves of Mount 
Carmel, fifty in each cave, and supplied them with 
bread and water. Obadiah did not stand alone— he 
had his co-believers who executed his secret com- 
missions. How could Jezebel combat the invisible 
enemy who found assistants in her own house? 

One day, Elijah, though deprived of his fol- 
lowers and knowing Ahab's weak, pliable dis- 
position, ventured into his vicinity in order to 
reproach him for the misdeeds which he permitted. 
Ahab had a predilection for building and fortify- 
ing towns. It was through him that Jericho, which 
had been deprived of its walls since the entry of the 
Israelites, was fortified by Hiel, of Bethel. Ahab 
also founded a new capital in the beautiful table 
land of Jezreel, where he was desirous of passing 
the winter months, for Samaria served only as a 
summer residence. This new town of Jezreel, 
which was destined to become the scene of tragic 
encounters, was built with great splendour. The 
royal couple had a palace of ivory erected there, 
and Ahab besides had extensive gardens laid out 
in Jezreel. Beyond this he coveted a beautiful 
vineyard near his palace which belonged to Naboth, 
one of the most respected citizens of Jezreel. Ahab 
offered him a compensation or exchange in money, 
but Naboth did not wish to be deprived of the heri- 
tage of his fathers. Disappointed at his inability to 
surround his palace with park-like grounds, Ahab 
would not even take food. Finding him in this 
state, Jezebel contemptuously chided him for his 
childish vexation and his cowardly helplessness, and 
promised him that he should nevertheless possess 
the desired vineyard. She sent out letters in the 
king's name to those of the elders of Israel of whose 
slavish obedience she was certain, and commanded 
them to produce two witnesses who would testify to 


having heard Naboth reviling the gods and the king. 
When, therefore, the council of judges had assembled 
at one of the gates of Jezreel, and Naboth as the 
eldest placed himself at the head, two worthless men 
appeared and testified on oath that they had heard 
Naboth revile the gods and the king. He was 
condemned to death by the elders, and the sentence 
was executed not only on him, but also on his sons. 
The possessions of those who were executed fell by 
law to the king. Jezebel now triumphantly announced 
to her husband, " Now thou canst possess Naboth' s 
vineyard in peace, for he is dead." No sooner 
had Elijah heard of this crime, than he could no 
longer contain himself. He repaired to Jezreel and 
met the king just as he was inspecting Naboth's 
vineyard. Behind him rode two men, of whom one 
was fated to become the avenger of Naboth. The 
prophet thundered out to him, ^' Hast thou murdered 
and dost now take possession" (i Kings xxi. 19; 
2 Kings ix. 25), and warned him of his imminent 
destruction : ** In the place where dogs licked the 
blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even 
thine." This threat had an overwhelming effect 
on Ahab. He reflected and meekly did penance, but 
the ruthless Jezebel did not long permit such a 
change of front, for she ruled her weak-minded 
husband completely. 

Elijah, who had suddenly disappeared, now re- 
turned a second time to Ahab and announced that 
a famine of several years' duration would befall the 
land. He then departed and resided in the Phoe- 
nician town of Zarephath (Sarepta), at the house 
of a widow, and later in a cave of Mount Carmel. 
Meanwhile a famine devastated the land, and there 
was not even fodder for the king's horses. One 
day Elijah appeared to Obadiah, the mayor of the 
palace, and said to him, ** Go, tell thy master, 
Elijah is here." On his entrance Ahab said to 
him, **Is it thou, disturber of Israel?" Then 


the prophet replied, "I have not troubled Israel, 
but thou and thy father's house." 

As though he alone had the right to give orders, 
he bade the king command the priests of Baal 
to assemble on Mount Carmel, where it would be 
revealed who was the true, and who the false 
prophet. The occurrence on Mount Carmel, 
where the contest took place, must have had 
an extraordinary effect. Ahab summoned all 
the prophets of Baal to the mountain, whither 
many of the people repaired, anxious to wit- 
ness the result of the contest between the pro- 
phet and the king, and to see whether the pre- 
vailing drought might in consequence come to 
an end. The hundred prophets who had been hidden 
and kept in the caves of Carmel by Obadiah were 
also present. Elijah presided at the assembly, which 
he addressed, saying (i Kings xviii. 21): *' How 
long halt ye between two opinions ? If the Lord be 
God, follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him." He 
then ordered the priests of Baal to erect an altar, 
offer sacrifices, and call on their god for a miracle. 
The priests did so, and according to their custom 
[they wounded themselves with knives and lances 
till the blood gushed forth over their bodies. They 
: cried from morning till midday, *' O Baal, hear us ! " 
When they at length ceased, covered with shame, 
Elijah erected an altar of twelve stones, performed 
his sacrifice, and prayed in a low voice. Then a 
marvel followed so suddenly that all present fell on 
:heir faces and cried, ** Jehovah alone is God!" 
;A flash of lightning burnt the sacrifice and 
[everything on the altar, and even the water in the 
[trench was dried up. Elijah determined to avenge 
himself on the priests of Baal, and commanded 
the multitude to kill them and throw their bodies 
into the river Kishon, which flowed hard by. Ahab, 
though present, was so amazed and terror-stricken 
that he permitted this act of violence. Jezebel, who 

VOL. I. p 


was of Sterner character, did not look with equal 
unconcern on this scene. On receiving- information 
of what had occurred, she threatened Elijah with a 
similar fate if he should ever fall into her hands. 
He was therefore obliged to flee in order to save 
himself. In the desert near Mount Horeb he had 
a vision, in which it was revealed to him that 
the kingdom should pass away from the house ot 
Ahab, whose descendants should be utterly de- 
stroyed, and that Jehu was to be anointed as king 
over Israel. Elijah was further instructed to re- 
trace his steps to the wilderness of Damascus, 
appoint a successor, and retire from the scene of 
action. At the same time the intemperate zeal 
which had led him to direct the slaughter of the 
priests of Baal was severely condemned on Horeb. 

During Elijah's long absence there appears to 
have been a truce between the royal house ot 
Omri and the followers of the Tishbite. Ahab, 
who had been an eye-witness of the events at 
Carmel, had probably become more indifferent 
than he had previously been in his worship of 
Baal, and as far as lay in his power had put 
a stop to the persecution of the prophets of the 
Lord. The latter, on their part, also seem to have 
become less eager for action. An association of 
prophets was formed in Jericho and Bethel, in 
both of which places they were permitted to dwell 
free from persecution. 

One prophet or disciple, however, remained 
inimical to Ahab — namely, Michaiah, son of 
Imlah. As often as the king sought out Michaiah 
to learn his prospects of success on entering on 
some enterprise, the prophet foretold evil. Ahab, 
however, did not attempt his life, but merely im- 
prisoned him. The ruler of the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes had misfortunes enough to serve him 
as prophetic warnings. The king of Aram, Ben- 
hadad II., became daily more powerful, more pre- 


suming, and more eager for conquest. He not 
only possessed horse-soldiers and chariots, but 
thirty-two kings, whom he had conquered and 
enslaved, belonged to his court. With their as- 
sistance he attacked Ahab — doubtless in the hope 
of profiting by the famine and discord which were 
destroying his kingdom. Ben-hadad subdued whole 
districts of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and 
besieged Samaria (904). In his distress, Ahab 
sued for peace, but Ben-hadad imposed such hard 
and disgraceful conditions that Ahab was forced 
to continue the contest ; Ahab was victorious, and 
the Aramaean king was ready to promise anything 
in order to secure peace ; the former enemies 
became friends, made a treaty, and ratified it by 
many oaths, which they no doubt soon forgot 
again. This hastily-formed alliance was rightly 
condemned by one of the prophets, who predicted 
that Ahab had thereby created a fresh source of 

Ben-hadad, having happily obtained peace, was 
by no means anxious to fulfil the conditions and pro- 
mises of the treaty. He restored the captured town 
of Naphtali, but the cities on the other boundary, 
especially the important town of Ramoth-Gilead, 
he did not desire to cede, and Ahab was too indif- 
ferent to press the matter. The longer he delayed 
the more difficult it became for him to insist on his 
claim, as Ben-hadad meanwhile was recovering his 
strength. Perhaps it would have been impossible 
for Ahab alone to regain possession of Ramoth- 
Gilead by force of arms. Just at this time he 
formed an alliance with King Jehoshaphat of 
Judah (918 — 905), and together with this king, 
he ventured to proceed against Ben-hadad. This 
alliance was a surprising one, seeing that Jeho- 
shaphat detested the idolatrous perversions of 
Ahab and Jezebel, and could not approve of the 
forcible introduction of the Baal-worship into Sa- 


maria, nor of the cruel persecution of the prophets. 
Nevertheless, he formed an intimate connection 
with the house of Omri, and, guided by political 
reasons, even permitted his son Jehoram to marry 
Athaliah, the idolatrous daughter of Ahab. 

When Jehoshaphat paid his visit to Samaria, in 
order to strengthen himself by an alliance with its 
king, Ahab probably solicited his royal guest to 
aid him in recovering Ramoth-Gilead ; and the 
king of Judah promised the help of his nation 
and soldiery. Thus, after a long separation, the 
kings of Israel and Judah fought side by side. 
After crossing the Jordan with Jehoshaphat, Ahab 
was mortally wounded by an arrow as he stood 
on his war-chariot, and he only possessed sufficient 
consciousness to order his charioteer to drive him 
out of the turmoil of battle. The soldiers were 
not informed of the king's condition, and fought 
until evening. Not until after the king had bled 
to death did the herald announce ** Let each return 
to his own country and to his own town." The 
Israelite and Judaean armies then returned across 
the Jordan, and the Aramaeans remained in pos- 
session of the mountain city of Ramoth-Gilead. 
Ahab's corpse was brought to Samaria and in- 
terred. But his blood, which had filled the cha- 
riot, was washed off into a ditch, and licked up by 
the dogs. 

• Ahaziah his son, succeeded Ahab, this being the 
first occasion on which the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes descended in a direct line to a grandson. He 
reigned only a short time (901-900) and thus but 
little is known of his character or peculiarities. Not- 
withstanding all warnings he remained confirmed 
in the evil ways of his parents. When Ahaziah 
fell from the window of his room, and had to take 
to his bed, he sent to Ekron to a celebrated idol 
Baal-Zebub (Bel-Zebul), to consult the oracle. 
At this time Elijah had returned from his sojourn 



on Mount Horeb, but, in accordance with the 
commands laid upon him he had remained in 
seclusion, probably on Mount Carmel. He did not 
wish to interfere with the course of events, but had 
chosen as his successor Elisha, son of Shaphat, who 
lived near the Jordan. The manner of his choice 
was characteristic of Elijah. While Elisha was 
ploughing a field with a yoke of oxen, Elijah 
approached, threw over him his dusky mantle (the 
distinctive garb of the prophets) and went away. 
If Elisha were indeed worthy to succeed him, he 
would understand the sign. Elisha ran after him 
and begged him to wait while he should take leave 
of his parents. *' Then you can return," said 
Elijah shortly, and Elisha knew that a faithful 
prophet of God must leave father and mother 
and sacrifice the wishes of his heart, and the 
habits of his life. Without returning to his 
father's house he followed Elijah at once and 
served him (as was then customary) by pouring 
water on his hands. Once only Elijah again took 
part in public affairs. He accosted the messenger 
w^hom Ahaziah had sent to Baal-Zebub and said to 
him, *' Say to the king who sent thee. Is there no 
God in Israel, that thou sendest to Ekron in order 
to consult Baal-Zebub concerning thy illness?" 
The messenger returned to Samaria and related 
what he had heard of the extraordinary man. 
From the description Ahaziah recognised Elijah, 
and despatched messengers for him. After hesi- 
tating for some time, Elijah went fearlessly to 
Samaria, and announced to Ahaziah that he would 
not again leave his sick bed. As the king died 
without leaving any children, he was succeeded 
by his brother Jehoram (Joram, 899-887). Elijah 
also disappeared from the scene about the same 
time. His disciples and followers could not 
believe that he paid the debt of nature, or that a 
man of so fiery a nature could fall into dust, and 


SO they related that he had gone direct to heaven 
in a storm. His constant follower, Elisha, seeing 
that his master desired to avoid him, followed the 
more closely. Elijah visited Gilgal, Bethel and 
Jericho, followed by Elisha, who did not venture 
to ask him whither he was going. At length they 
are said to have crossed the Jordan on dry land, 
and then Elijah was withdrawn from Elisha's vision 
by a fiery chariot with fiery horses, which con- 
veyed the prophet to heaven. The untiring 
activity of Elijah under the most unfavourable 
circumstances, amidst ceaseless strife and the 
persecution of the ancient law, surrounded as he 
was by the idolatry and wickedness of the Baal 
and Astarte worship, could only be explained as 
the result of miracles. Elijah's greatest marvel 
consisted in founding a circle of disciples who 
strove to keep alive the teachings of the ancient 
law, and who raised their voices against the 
perversions of the mighty ones of the land. The 
prophetic school founded by the prophet lived 
simply from the work of their hands. After 
Elijah's disappearance the disciples were without 
a leader, and Elisha took his place at their head. 
Elisha at first followed closely in the footsteps of 
his master, keeping himself apart from all men, 
and living chiefly on Mount Carmel. In time, 
however, he accustomed himself to mix with the 
people, after he had succeeded in rousing an ener- 
getic man to destroy the house of Omri, and put 
an end to the worship of Baal. 

Jehoram, the third of the Omris, was not as 
fanatical in his desire to spread idolatry as his 
mother Jezebel, but nevertheless Elisha felt so 
profound an aversion for him that he could not 
bear to meet him face to face. After his brother's 
death, Jehoram undertook a war against King Mesa 
(Mesha) in order to punish him for his secession, 
and to reduce him to subjection. Together with 


his brother-in-law, Jehoshaphat, he determined to 
proceed through Tdumea, whose king was also to 
supply auxiliary forces, and south of the Dead Sea, 
towards Moab. By taking this route Jehoram 
passed Jerusalem, where the heads of the Houses of 
Israel and Jacob met in a friendly way. But it was 
the chiefs alone who went hand in hand. Jehosha- 
phat, who desired to know the result of the war, 
summoned Elisha, as the successor of Elijah, to 
appear before him. On seeing Jehoram, the 
prophet said to liim, *^ Were it not out of con- 
sideration for King Jehoshaphat, I would not see 
thee. Go thou to the prophets of thy father and thy 
mother." He nevertheless prophesied a favour- 
able result. Mesa, king of Moab, who was await- 
ing the attack of the allies on the southern border 
of his kingdom, was overcome by force of numbers, 
and fled to the mountain fortress of Kir-hareseth 
(Kir Moab, Kerek). The land of Moab was laid 
waste, although Mesa was not subjugated. Not long 
after, on the death of Jehoshaphat, Edom also fell 
away from Judah. Edom had not acted quite 
fairly in the combined attack on Moab, but appears 
to have come to an understanding with Mesa after 
the withdrawal of the allies. It seemed as if 
the close friendship and intermarriage with the 
house of Omri was only destined to bring misfor- 
tune on the house of David. Joram (Jehoram) the 
son of Jehoshaphat, the namesake of his royal 
brother-in-law of Israel (894-888), was so inti- 
mately connected with the royal house of Israel 
that he introduced their idolatrous practices 
into his own country. There can be no ques- 
tion but that his wife Athaliah was the cause of 
this, for she like her mother Jezebel, was fana- 
tically attached to the disgraceful rites con- 
nected with the worship of Baal. At length 
the fate impending over the house of Omri, to- 
gether with that of David, was to be fulfilled, and 


the prophet Elisha held the threads of destiny in 
his hands. In Damascus a change of dynasty had 
occurred, where Ben-hadad II., the same king who 
had warred with Ahab, had been suffocated by his 
confidential servant, who seized the throne. He 
was desirous of regaining the conquered portions 
of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, which had been 
lost by Ben-hadad. He first directed his attacks 
against the tribes on the other side of the Jordan. 
Jehoram of Israel repaired with his army to 
Ramoth-Gilead, in order to defend that important 
fortress. The contest for the citadel seems to have 
been a severe one, and Jehoram was wounded by 
an arrow. In consequence he went to Jezreel to 
have his wound attended to, and left one of his 
captains, named Jehu, as commander of the defence. 
One day a disciple of the prophets from Elisha 
came to Jehu, led him away from the council of 
warriors to a distant room, impressed on him to 
execute the office of avenger on the house of 
Omri, and disappeared as suddenly as he had come. 
When Jehu returned to the council they noticed a 
change in his manner, and eagerly asked him what 
the disciple of the prophets had announced to him. 
Jehu at first did not wish to reply, but at last he 
disclosed to them, that at Elisha' s instance he had 
been anointed king over the Ten Tribes. The chiefs 
of the army did him homage, and spread their 
purple garments on the highest steps of the palace, 
for a throne, and amid trumpet blasts they shouted, 
** Long live King Jehu." Having been acknow- 
ledged as king by the army, Jehu proceeded without 
delay to bring the conspiracy to a head. He 
closed all the roads leading from Ramoth-Gilead 
to Jezreel, so that the news might not spread. He 
then led forth a part of the army, crossed the 
Jordan, and rode in haste to Jezreel, where Jehoram 
still lay ill from the effects of his wound. The 
king recognised Jehu from afar, by his rapid riding, 

CH. X. JEHU. 217 

and it seemed to him suspicious that the messenger 
whom he had sent did not return. Jehoram there- 
fore ordered his chariot that he might see what 
had brought Jehu to Jezreel in such hot haste. 
Ahaziah, the king of Judah (who had shortly 
before this succeeded to the throne of his father 
Joram,. 888), accompanied his uncle to the chariot. 
They met Jehu in the field where Jezebel had 
judicially murdered Naboth. There an arrow 
from Jehu's hand struck Jehoram, who sank down 
lifeless in his chariot. Jehu had the body cast 
into the field of Naboth, and reminded his fol- 
lower Bidkar how they had been witnesses of the 
prophetic threat which Elijah had uttered against 
Ahab in that very field, and that he had been made 
the instrument of that doom. Ahaziah fell on the 
same day. Thus the destruction of the house of 
Ahab was completed and no one arose in its 

Jehu entered Jezreel unmolested; the queen- 
mother Jezebel, richly decked out, came to the 
palace window, and called, " How goes it, thou 
regicide, like unto Zimri ? " Jehu commanded the 
eunuchs of the palace to throw her into the street, 
and they obeyed. The body of the queen who had 
done so much harm was trampled down by the 
horses, and her blood spurted on the wall of the 
palace and over the horses. Naboth was not, 
however, fully avenged by the death of the son 
and the grandmother, there were other sons, 
grandsons, and relations of Jehoram, about seventy 
in number, who lived in Samaria, where they were 
trained and educated by the most respected men. 
To these men Jehu sent a message that they should 
appoint a king to occupy the throne. They, 
however, knew that this message was not to be 
taken seriously, and preferred to submit to the man 
who had already killed two kings. Jehu then 
ordered them to come with the ** heads" to 


Jezreel, and thereupon they came with the heads of 
Ahab's descendants. Jehu placed the skulls in two 
rows on the city gates, and the next morning he 
explained to the inhabitants of the city that he had 
only conspired against Jehoram, but that the words 
of Elijah concerning the House of Ahab had been 
fulfilled. Jehu combined cunning with determina- 
tion ; all the officers who had brought him his 
victims he ordered to be executed as murderers. 
There being now no survivor of the royal house, 
Jehu took possession of the throne, and the inhabi- 
tants of Jezreel paid him homage. 

In order to gain the hearts of the nation, he made 
preparations to exterminate the worship of Baal 
in Samaria. On his road thither he met with 
Jonadab, who had adopted the Nazirite mode of 
life as introduced by Elijah. Together with Jona- 
dab, Jehu went to Samaria, where he assembled 
the priests of Baal on a certain day, as though 
he intended joining in their rites. He placed 
armed men inside and outside the temple of Baal, 
> and went there, accompanied by Jonadab. Hardly 
had the sacrifice been prepared than all the priests 
fell as victims. The soldiers killed all those inside 
the temple, and those who fled were cut down by 
the men stationed outside. The soldiers then 
rushed in, burnt the images, destroyed the altar, 
the columns, and also the temple, and converted 
the whole into a heap of ruins. Throughout the 
country Jehu destroyed the hideous idol-worship 
wherever his hand could reach it, for he professed 
to be a follower of Elijah, and zealous in the cause 
of Jehovah. In Jerusalem alone the worship of 
Baal continued, or rather it was fanatically upheld 
there by the daughter of Jezebel, who was in every 
way worthy of her mother. 



Athaliah's rule — Early years of Joash— Proclamation of Joashby 
Jehoiada — Athaliah slain — Religious Revival— Elisha — Repairing 
of the Temple— Death of Jehoiada and of his Son — ^Invasion of 
Israel by Hazael — Jehoahaz — Murder of Joash, King of Judah — 
Jehoash, King of Israel — Defeat of the Aramaeans — Amaziah — 
Conquest of Edom — Death of Elisha — Amaziah defeated by 
Jehoash — Jeroboam II. — Death of Amaziah. 

887—805 B.C. 

It is a striking fact that in olden times women, who 
might have been expected to become priestesses 
of chastity and morality, displayed a special incli- 
nation for the immoral worship of Baal and Astarte. 
Maachah, the queen-mother in Judah, had estab- 
lished an altar in Jerusalem for the worship of 
idols. Jezebel had erected one in Samaria, and 
now Athaliah followed the same course in Jeru- 
salem. This was neither Athaliah's sole nor her 
greatest sin. The daughter of Jezebel greatly 
exceeded her mother in cruelty. Jezebel had 
executed various prophets, besides the obstinate 
adherents of the ancestral law, or those whom 
she considered as her enemies. Athaliah, how- 
ever, shed the blood of her own relations, and did 
not hesitate to destroy the family of her husband 
and son. No sooner had she received tidings of 
the death of her son Ahaziah, than she ordered 
the soldiers devoted to her cause to execute all the 
surviving members of the house of David in 
Jerusalem. The youngest of the princes Joash, 
who had hardly attained his first year, was 
only saved from participating in the fate of his 
brethren by the special intervention of Jeho- 


shebah. What did Jezebel's blood-thirsty daugh- 
ter intend by this massacre ? Was her sin 
dictated by an ambitious scheme for gaining 
possession of the throne, and for freeing herself 
from all fear of rivalry ? Or did Athaliah, herself 
a firm believer in the worship of Baal, desire to 
consolidate and diffuse this worship throughout 
Jerusalem and Judah ; and, in pursuance of that 
design, did she destroy the remnant of the house 
of David, so that her own path might be clear? 
Did she hope to succeed where her mother had 
failed, and by establishing idolatrous practices in 
Jerusalem to give fresh impetus to the Phoenician 
worship ? 

Whatever motive actuated the worthy daughter 
of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah reduced the Israelite 
nation to so complete a subservience to her will 
that no one dared to oppose her evil courses. 
The nation and priests bowed before her. Even 
the high priest, Jehoiada, who was connected 
with the royal house, remained quiescent. In 
Jerusalem an image of Baal, with pointed pillars 
and altars, was erected, at the very time that 
Jehu was destroying those emblems of Idolatry 
in Samaria, and a high priest, named Mattan, 
had been appointed and installed, with a number 
of subordinate priests. Did Athaliah leave the 
temple on Mount Moriah untouched and un- 
desecrated ? It appears that she, less consistent 
in her daring and more timid than later sovereigns, 
did not venture to introduce an image of Baal 
into the sanctuary which Solomon had erected. 
She seems, however, to have interfered with the 
divine service. The Carians, paid troops employed 
by Athaliah, and the body of guardians which, from 
olden times, had attended the king, were placed at 
the entrance of the Temple, in order to keep out 
the people. A third of these hireling soldiers were ac- 
customed to guard the Temple on the Sabbath, so as 


to prevent any visits there ; on the following Sabbath 
another third relieved them, and thus they took the 
duty in turn from Sabbath to Sabbath. For six 
years (887 — 881) Athaliah regulated the political 
and religious affairs of the nation, the more noble 
of the Jewish families probably being of her party. 
Only the nearest relative of the royal family, the 
High Priest, Jehoiada, remained true to the ancient 
teachings and to the House of David. He had 
married a daughter of King Jehoram of Judah, 
named Jehoshebah. She was therefore the sister 
of the king Ahaziah who had been slain by Jehu. 

Whilst Athaliah had been ruthlessly killing the 
last remnants of the house of David, Jehoshebah 
had rescued the youngest child of her brother 
from the massacre, and had brought him and his 
nurse into the chamber in the Temple where the 
Levites slept. Here she secreted the royal infant 
for a considerable time, and reared him for his 
country. Athaliah troubled herself but little as 
to what was happening in the deserted Temple, 
and the Aaronites and Levites, who remained 
faithful to Jehoiada, betrayed nothing. His very 
youth aroused their interest in the last descendant 
of the house of David. During the six years in 
which Athaliah ruled with absolute power in Jeru- 
salem, Jehoiada remained quiet, and entered into 
friendly relations with the chiefs of the Carians 
and the guards, gradually revealing the fact that 
a youthful prince was still in existence, to whom 
the throne of Judah by right belonged. He found 
them well inclined towards the royal house, and 
opposed to the usurper Athaliah. When he had 
convinced himself of their sympathy with his views, 
he led them to the Temple, and showed them 
Joash. He was then seven years of age, and the 
soldiers probably recognised him, from family 
features, as the rightful heir to the throne. Je- 
hoiada then demanded that the chiefs should take 


the oath of fealty to the child. With their assistance 
he could hope to effect a revolution, and to restore 
the royal line. The chiefs could reckon on the 
blind obedience of their followers, and accordingly 
a plan of action was decided on, as well as the date 
for its execution. One Sabbath a division of the 
Carians then on guard went to their posts, whilst 
two-thirds occupied the entrance of the Temple. 
They had all received strict orders to kill anyone 
who should cross the boundaries of the Temple 
courts with hostile intentions. As the prince was 
now secure from all attacks, Jehoiada also permitted 
the populace to enter the Temple courts. At a 
thrilling moment, when the Carians and guards 
stood with drawn swords, and whilst the chiefs 
held David's weapons of honour, the High Priest 
led the child Joash from the room in which he 
had been concealed, put the crown on his head, 
anointed him as king, and made him mount the 
pillar-like throne which had been brought into the 
courts of the Temple for the king's use. The 
trumpets then sounded, the soldiers shook their 
weapons till they rang again, the people clapped 
their hands, and cried " Long live King Joash.'' 

It was only when the noise from the Temple re- 
sounded as far as Athaliah's palace that she was 
roused from the indifference and security in which 
a belief in the fidelity of her paid troops had 
caused her to indulge. She hurriedly repaired to 
the Temple, accompanied by a few attendants. 
There, to her terror, she beheld a young child with 
a crown on his head, surrounded by her troops, 
who were protecting him, and by a mass of people 
in wild delight. She found herself betrayed, 
rent her clothes, and cried, *' Conspiracy, con- 
spiracy ! " Some of her captains immediately seized 
her, led her by a circuitous path out of the Temple 
courts to the eastern gates of the palace, and there 
killed her. Thus the last grandchild of the house 


of Omri perished as disgracefully as her mother 
had done. The close connection of Israel with 
Tyre had not brought happiness to either kingdom. 
The mother and daughter, Jezebel and Athaliah, 
resembled their goddess Astarte — the cause of 
destruction, death, and ruin. Ahab's daughter 
does not appear to have had many adherents in 
Jerusalem — in the hour of death she found no par- 
tisans. Her priests of Baal were powerless to help 
her, for they themselves fell as sacrifices to the 
nation's anger. Jehoiada, having induced and 
effected the great revolution, now endeavoured to 
take precautions against the repetition of similar 
misfortunes in Jerusalem. He utilised the joyous 
and enthusiastic sentiments of the youthful king 
and the nation to remove all traces of the wor- 
ship of Baal, and to arouse in all minds a faithful 
dependence on the God of their ancestors. He 
demanded of the king and the whole assembly a 
solemn promise to remain henceforth a people of 
God, to serve Him faithfully, and to worship no 
idol. The promise, which was proclaimed aloud by 
the king and the nation, was sealed by a covenant. 
The inhabitants of Jerusalem poured into the 
temple of Baal, which had been erected by Atha- 
liah, destroyed the altars, trampled on the images, 
and all objects which had belonged to the idol- 
worship. The nation itself undertook to protect 
its own religion. It was not till after the covenant 
had been ratified, both by the young king and the 
nation, that Joash, triumphantly escorted by the 
guards, the soldiers, and the multitude, was led 
from the Temple mount into the palace, where he 
was placed on the throne of his fathers. Jerusalem 
was in a state of joyful excitement. The adherents 
of the late queen remained quiet, and did not dare 
to damp the general enthusiasm. 

It is remarkable that in the political and religious 
revolutions which followed each other in Samaria 


and Jerusalem in quick succession, Elisha*s helping 
hand should have been absent. He had commis- 
sioned one of his disciples to anoint Jehu as the 
avenger of the crimes of Omri's house, whilst he 
himself remained in the background, not even pre- 
senting himself at the overthrow of Baal. He does 
not appear to have been associated with King 
Jehu, and still less did Elijah's chief disciple take 
any part in the fall of Athaliah and the destruction 
of idolatry in Jerusalem. Elisha seems to have 
occupied himself chiefly with the instruction of pro- 
phetic disciples, in order to keep alive the religious 
ardour which Elijah had kindled. Elisha, however, 
had not been at first universally recognised as 
leader. He was reproached for omitting to wear 
long flowing hair, for it thence appeared that he 
laid less stress on the Nazirite mode of life. The 
boys of the prophet schools at Bethel jeered at 
him and called him *' Bald-head." Elisha also dif- 
fered from his master in associating with his fellow- 
men, instead of passing his life in solitude as 
Elijah had done. At the outset, whilst the 
Omrites were in power, he certainly remained 
on Mount Carmel, and thence, accompanied by 
his disciple Gehazi, visited the prophet schools 
on the Jordanic territories. Later on, he made 
Samaria his dwelling-place, and was known under 
the title of the ** Prophet of Samaria." Through 
his friendly intercourse with men he exercised a 
lasting influence on them, and imbued them 
with his beliefs. Men of note sought him to ob- 
tain his advice, and the people generally visited 
him on sabbaths and new moons. It was only in 
the kingdom of Judah and in Jerusalem that Elisha 
did not appear. Why did he avoid this territory ? 
Or why have no records of his relations with it 
been preserved ? Was he not of the same disposi- 
tion as the high priest Jehoiada, and had they not 
both the same end in view? It seems that the 


violent prophetic energy of Elijah and Elisha were 
not much appreciated in Jerusalem. Elijah had 
built an altar on Carmel, and had there offered up 
sacrifices ; but, though he did so in the name of 
the same God whose temple was in Jerusalem, 
his conduct was doubtless not countenanced by the 
priesthood ; it was contrary to the law, and Elijah 
would hardly have been a welcome guest in Jeru- 

There, attention had become concentrated on 
the sanctuary and the law, from the moment when 
Jehoiada had shown himself its strict guardian. 
The Temple had suffered injury under Athaliah. 
Not only had the golden covering of the cedar wood 
been in part destroyed, but the blocks had been 
violently pulled out of the walls. It was therefore, 
an important matter for the young king Joash, at 
the beginning of his reign, to make good these 
damages, and Jehoiada impressed on him the neces- 
sity of this undertaking. The means, however, were 
wanting. Whatever treasure might have been in 
the Temple — the accumulated offerings of former 
kings or of pious donors — had, without doubt, been 
transferred by Athaliah to the house of Baal. The 
king therefore commanded the priests to collect 
money for effecting the necessary repairs, and bade 
them engage in this work with as much energy as 
though it were their own affair. Every Aaronite 
was to obtain contributions from his acquaintances, 
and out of the sums thus collected the expenses of 
repairing the Temple were to be defrayed. Whether 
it was that the moneys received were insufficient, 
or that the priests used them for their own pur- 
poses, the repairs remained for a long time un- 
attempted. At length the king ordered the high 
priest Jehoiada (864) to admonish the nation on 
the subject. A chest with a slit in it was placed in 
the courtyard of the Temple, and into that chest all 
whom piety or generosity influenced might place a 

VOL. I. Q 


free-will offering, each according to his means, or 
he might give his contribution to the priests, 
who would convey it to the chest. The gifts were 
liberal, and proved sufficient to procure materials, 
and to pay the masons and carpenters. Jehoiada 
raised the position of high priest — which until then 
had been Inferior to that of the king — to an equality 
with royal power. Had not the high priest, through 
his wisdom and energy, saved the kingdom ? Would 
not the last descendant of the house of David have 
been destroyed if Jehoiada had not rescued him 
from the bloodthirsty Athaliah ? He could justly 
claim that the high priest should have an Im- 
portant voice in all matters of state. Jehoiada 
used his Influence to inculcate due respect to the 
law, and to avoid a recurrence of the deplorable 
period of secession from God. But a strife between 
the royal power and that of the priests was inevi- 
table, for the former from its very conformation, 
was dependent on passing events, whilst the latter 
was based on established laws. During the life- 
time of Jehoiada, to whom Joash owed everything, 
the contest did not break out. Joash may have 
been prompted by gratitude and respect to submit 
to the orders of the high priest, and he paid Je- 
hoiada' s lifeless body the honour of burial in the 
royal mausoleum In the city of David. 

After Jehoiada' s death, however, a contest arose 
between his son and successor Zechariah and the 
king, which cost the former his life. The details 
have not reached us, It has only been stated that at 
Joash' s command some princes of Judah stoned 
the son of Jehoiada to death In the Temple courts, 
and that the young high priest, in his dying 
moments exclaimed, ** May God take account of 
this and avenge it!" Otherwise the total over- 
throw of the various members of the house of Omrl, 
who had caused so many differences and quarrels in 
Samaria and Jerusalem, had resulted in the internal 


peace of both kingdoms. The present condition 
was tolerable except that private altars still existed 
in the kingdom of Judah, and that the God of Israel 
was still worshipped under the form of a bull in 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. The worship of 
Baal was, however, banished the kingdom. 

From without, both lands were harassed by 
enemies. Jehu, the bold cavalry general, who had 
destroyed the house of Omri in Jezreel and Samaria, 
had not displayed the same ability against his power- 
ful foreign enemies. Hazael, the Aramaean regi- 
cide, who was daring in warlike undertakings and 
eager for conquest, attacked the land of Israel with 
his troops, took the citadels by storm, burnt the 
houses, and spared neither children nor women. He 
also conquered the towns on the opposite side of 
the Jordan. The entire district of Manasseh, Gad, 
and Reuben, from the mountains of Bashan to the 
Arnon, was snatched from the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes. The inhabitants were reduced to a state 
of semi-bondage, and many of them were cruelly 
crushed under iron ploughshares. Jehu was not in 
a position to hold his ground against Hazael, per- 
haps because he had also to meet with opposition 
from the king of Tyre, whose relation and ally he 
had slain. 

Matters fared still worse under his son Jehoahaz 
(859-845). The land had been so hard pressed by 
Hazael and his son Ben-hadad, and the Israelites 
had been so reduced in strength, that their available 
forces consisted of but 10,000 infantry, fifty horse- 
soldiers, and ten war-chariots. From time to time 
the Aramaeans made inroads, carried off booty and 
captured prisoners, whom they treated as slaves, 
and sold as such. Jehoahaz appears to have 
concluded a disgraceful peace with the conqueror, 
and to have granted his troops free passage 
through his lands. Thereupon Hazael overran 
the land of the Philistines with his warriors, 

Q 2 


and besieged and conquered the town of Gath. 
He then intended to advance against Jerusalem, 
but Joash submitted of his own accord, and 
bought peace with a sum of money. It is uncer- 
tain whether popular discontent was aroused by 
his cowardice, or whether he had given other 
causes for disaffection ; several nobles of Judah, 
however, conspired against him, and two of them, 
Jozachar and Jehozabad, killed him in a' house 
where he chanced to be staying (845-830). 

It was Joash, king of Israel, who succeeded 
in gradually reducing the preponderance of the 
Aramaean kingdom. Probably this was owing to 
the fact that the neighbouring kings of the Hittites 
(who dwelt on the Euphrates), as well as the king 
of Egypt, envious of the power of Damascus, took 
up a hostile position towards Ben-hadad III. In 
order to weaken or destroy the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, he had laid close siege to the capital of 
Samaria, until all food was consumed, and the dis- 
tress was so great that the head of an ass was 
sold for eighty shekels, and a load of dung, for 
fuel, for live shekels. Few of the war-horses sur- 
vived, and these were so emaciated that they were 
incapacitated for service. The famine drove two 
women to such extremities that they determined to 
kill and eat their children. The Aramaeans, how- 
ever, unexpectedly raised the siege and hurried 
away, leaving their tents, horses, asses, valuables 
and provisions behind them. The king, to whom 
this discover}^ was communicated by some half- 
starved lepers, became once more encouraged. 
He gave battle to Ben-hadad on three occasions, 
and defeated him in each conflict. The king of 
Damascus saw himself compelled to make peace 
with the king of Israel, and to restore the towns 
his father Hazael had taken from the territory of 
the Ten Tribes on the east side of the Jordan. 

The weakening of the Damascan-Aramiean king- 


dom had a favourable effect on the fortunes of 
Judah under king Amaziah (843-816). Damascus 
had accorded its protection to the petty com- 
monwealths of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, which 
stood in hostile relations to Israel and Judah. Ben- 
hadad's humiliation set free Amaziah' s hands, and 
enabled him to reconquer the former possessions of 
the house of David. The small territory of Edom 
had freed itself from vassalage about half a century 
earlier. One of the Edomite kings had erected a 
new capital on an eminence of Mount Seir, which, 
situated on chalk and porphyry rocks, lay at a height 
of 4,000 feet above the sea-level, to which a path- 
way led up from the valley below. In this moun- 
tain city (Petra), fifteen miles south of the Dead 
Sea, the Idumaeans hoped to remain secure from 
all attacks. Edom said proudly, *' Who shall bring 
me down to the ground?" Amaziah had the 
courage to attack the Idumseans in their mountain 
fastnesses. A battle was fought in the salt valley, 
not far from the Dead Sea, where Amaziah 
utterly routed the enemy, and the remainder took 
to flight leaving their fortress at his mercy. 
Having captured it, he for some unknown 
reason, changed its name to that of a Judsean 
city, *'Jokthel." Doubtless rich booty was ac- 
quired as a result of the successful campaign, for 
Edom was a country not only rich in flocks, but 
also in metals. Amaziah was not a little proud 
of his victory ; his pride, however, led to his own 
ruin, and to the misfortune of his people. 

A peaceable understanding existed between Jehu 
and his successors, and the kingdom of Judah. 
Although no treaty of peace had been entered 
into between them, as had formerly been the case 
under the Omris, they had a common interest in 
keeping down the adherents of Baal worship. 

The kings, Jehoash (Joash) of Israel and Amaziah 
of Judah, were devoted to the ancient law. Amaziah 


can hardly be sufficiently praised for having pun- 
ished the murderers of his father, whilst contrary 
to the barbarous custom then obtaining, he 
spared their sons. Most probably the high priest 
or some other representative of the Law, had im- 
pressed on him that the law of Israel forbids the 
children to suffer for the sins of their fathers, or 
fathers for the sins of their children. 

Jehoash evinced a deep respect for the prophet 
Elisha, and followed his counsel in all important 
matters. When, after more than fifty years of 
activity (900-840), Elisha lay on his death-bed, the 
king visited the prophet, wept at his approaching 
end, and proclaimed him the father and guardian 
of Israel. After Elisha' s death, the king ordered 
Gehazi (Elisha' s constant follower) to recount all the 
important deeds which the prophet had performed. 
To the Shunamite woman, in whom the prophet had 
been interested, the king restored her house and 
fields (which in her absence, had been seized upon 
by a stranger), a clear evidence of the strength 
of Elisha's influence. Elisha had earlier gained a 
great victory for the Law of God, though in this 
case the initiative had been taken by another. A 
respected general, the idolater Naaman, who stood 
second to the king of Syria, was so powerfully 
influenced by the prophet, that he voluntarily 
renounced the impious worship of Baal and Astarte, 
and acknowledged the God of Israel. He had 
earth conveyed from the land of Israel to Damascus, 
in order to erect his private altar on holy ground. 
Meanwhile, although the desire existed in both 
kingdoms to free themselves from their enemies, 
and to remain true to their brethren, internal 
differences had already taken such deep root that 
it was impossible for them to avoid war. 

After the return of Amaziah from his conquest 
of the Edomites, he formed the daring conception of 
proceeding with his army against the kingdom of 


the Ten Tribes, and of re-conquering it. As a pre- 
text, he appears to have demanded the daughter 
of the Israelite king as a bride for his son, in- 
tending to regard a refusal as a justification for 
war. Jehoash satirically replied to his suggestion, 
** The thorn-bush once said to the cedar of Le- 
banon, Give thy daughter as a wife to my son ; 
thereon he set free the wild beasts of the Lebanon, 
who trod down the thorn-bush. Because thou hast 
conquered Edom, thy heart grows proud. Guard 
thine honour, and remain at home. Why wouldst 
thou plunge thyself into misfortune ; Judah would 
fall into the trap with thee." But Amaziah refused 
to give way, and sent his army to the borders of 
the kingdom of Israel. Jehoash, encouraged by 
the victory he had just obtained over the Ara- 
maeans, went forth to meet him. A battle was 
fought on the frontiers at Beth Shemesh, where the 
men of Judah sustained a considerable loss and 
fled. Amaziah himself was taken prisoner by the 
king of Israel. 

One can only consider it as an unusual act of 
leniency that Jehoash did not make a bad use of 
his brilliant victory, and that he did not even ac- 
tively follow it up. Could he not dethrone the 
captive Amaziah, declare the house of David to 
be extinct, and merge the kingdom of Judah into 
his own sovereignty? This, however, he did not 
do, but contented himself with destroying the walls 
of Jerusalem, together with the town, the palace, 
and the temple. Jerusalem, which appeared destined 
to be subjected to recurrent attacks, was, for the 
first time since its foundation, captured and partly 
destroyed by an Israelite king. Jehoash mag- 
nanimously set the captured monarch at liberty, 
but demanded hostages. The moderation displayed 
by Jehoash was no doubt due to the influence of 
the prophet Elisha or his disciples. After the 
death of Jehoash (830), Amaziah reigned for 


another fifteen years, but was not very suc- 
cessful in his undertakings. The power and 
extent of the Ephraimite kingdom, on the other 
hand, increased so rapidly that it seemed as 
though the times of David were about to return. 
Jeroboam II. possessed greater military abilities 
than any of those who had preceded him since the 
division of the kingdom, and fortune befriended 
him. He enjoyed a very long life (830-769), 
during which he was enabled to fight many battles 
and achieve various conquests. He appears first 
of all to have turned his arms against the Ara- 
maeans. They were the worst enemies of the king- 
dom of the Ten Tribes, and had kept up continuous 
attacks against it since the time of Ahab. The 
boundary of the kingdom of Israel extended from 
the road which led to Hamath, as far as the south- 
east river, which empties itself into the Red Sea. 
A prophet of this time, Jonah son of Amittai, from 
the town of Gath-hepher, had encouraged Jeroboam 
to make war against the Aramaeans. The king 
also seems to have conquered the district of Moab, 
and to have annexed it to the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes. 

Amaziah's efforts, meanwhile, were impeded by 
the humiliation he had had to undergo. Jerusalem 
having been deprived of its fortresses, Amaziah 
could not undertake any war, and had only the 
poor comfort of being spared by his enemies. 
The walls could not be repaired, for he had been 
obliged to leave hostages in the Israelite capital 
as pledges of his good faith. The nobles and 
nation in general had ample reason for discon- 
tent. Amaziah had injured the country by his 
presumption. Jerusalem had been robbed of her 
fortresses, and had been left defenceless against 
every hostile attack. The discontent was aggra- 
vated by the fact that the hostages — the signs of 
his humiliation, who doubtless belonged to the most 


respected families, had to live in banishment. 
This discontent against king Amaziah culminated 
in a conspiracy. A violent conflict arose in Jeru- 
salem, the people either siding with the conspi- 
rators or taking no part in the contest. Amaziah 
was helpless, and sought safety in flight. The 
conspirators, however, followed him to Lachish 
(about fifteen hours' journey south-west of Jeru- 
salem, where he had taken refuge), and there killed 
him. He was the third king of the house of David 
who had fallen by the sword, and the second who 
had fallen at the hands of conspirators. 

After the death of Amaziah, Jerusalem and the 
kingdom of Judah experienced yet greater misfor- 
tunes. The princes of Judah, who had dethroned 
and killed the king, do not appear to have resigned 
the reins of government which they had seized. 
Amaziah' s only surviving son, Azariah (called also 
Uzziah), was a child of four or five years of age, 
and the land was surrounded by enemies. Advan- 
tage was taken of this helpless condition of the 
country, by the Idumseans who had been beaten and 
disgraced by Amaziah. They commenced an attack 
on the kingdom of Judah, and Egypt again joined 
their cause, as it had done in the times of Reho- 
boam. Sanguinary battles ensued, and the Idu- 
mseans took many prisoners. They pressed on to 
Jerusalem, where the breaches in the walls had not 
yet been repaired, and carried off numbers of cap- 
tives. There are no further particulars known of the 
attack of the Idumseans. Some territories seem to 
have been separated from Judah, the conquerors 
being partly from Edom and partly from Egypt. 
The rude warriors exchanged Judsean boys and girls 
for wine and prostitutes, and these were resold to the 
lonians, who at that time vied with the Phoenicians 
in the pursuit of slave-trading. The Tyrians, for- 
getful of their long-standing alliance with the house 
of David, did not behave in a more friendly manner. 



At that time was commenced the dispersion of the 
Judaeans in the distant lands, where the lonians had 
sold them as slaves. These Jewish slaves probably 
brought the first germs of higher morals and culture 
to the Western nations. Amongst the prisoners 
were many noble youths and beautiful maidens of 
Jerusalem, possessed of a high degree of culture, 
and on account of their surroundings and the 
eventful history of their nation, they learnt to value 
their heritage amongst strangers more highly than 
had been the case whilst they still were dwelling 
in their native land. 



Condition of Judah — The Earthquake and Famine— Uzziah's Rule— 
Overthrow of Neighbouring Powers — Fortification of Jerusalem 
— Navigation of the Red Sea — Jeroboam's Prosperity — The 
Sons of the Prophets — Amos — Prophetic Eloquence — Joel's 
Prophecies — Hosea Foretells Ultimate Peace — Denunciation of 
Uzziah — Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem — Last Years of Uzziah — 
Contest between the King and the High Priest— Uzziah usurps 
the Priestly Functions — Uzziah's Illness. 

805—758 B.C. 

After the violent death of Amaziah, the kingdom 
of Judah or house of Jacob had become so exces- 
sively weakened, partly through internal dissen- 
sions and partly through foreign warfare, that it 
was a byeword among the nations. A contempo- 
rary prophet called it the ** the crumbling house 
of David," and oftentimes repeated, "Who will 
reinstate Jacob, seeing that he is so small ? " And 
yet from this weakness and abasement Judah once 
more roused itself and became elevated to a high 
degree of power, so that it was enabled to overawe 
the neighbouring peoples. The internal dissensions 
had first to be set at rest. The entire nation of 
Judah rose up against those of the noble families 
who had committed regicide for the second time, 
thus creating confusion, and they elected the young 
prince Azariah, or Uzziah, as their king. This king 
— who was only seventeen years old, and who like 
his contemporary. King Jeroboam, enjoyed a long 
reign — possessed energy, determination and caution, 
and he was therefore successful in saving the crum- 
bling house of David. His first care was to transport 
the corpse of his father from Lachish where it had 
been buried, to Jerusalem where it was interred with 


the remains of the other kings of the house of David. 
Whether Uzziah punished the murderers of his 
father cannot be ascertained. He then proceeded to 
heal the wounds of his country, but the task was a 
difficult one, for he had not only to contend against 
enemies within the State itself and among the neigh- 
bouring nations, but he had also to fight against 
other unfavourable circumstances. As though the 
very heavens had conspired against the country, a 
number of devastating natural calamities burst upon 
the land, calculated to make the bravest despair, 
and to render them indifferent to their fate. In 
the first place, an earthquake occurred in Uzziah' s 
time, which thoroughly startled the inhabitants of 
Palestine. The people took to flight, shrieking 
with terror, expecting every moment to be en- 
gulfed in an abyss beneath the quivering earth. 
The phenomena accompanying the earthquake in- 
creased their terror. The sun was hidden iby a 
thick fog which suddenly arose, and which wr^^^d 
all in darkness, broken only by the lightWIg 
flashes which from time to time illuminated the 
darkness and increased the pervading terror. The 
moon and stars appeared to have lost their light. 
The sea roared and thundered, in consequence of 
the disturbance of its bed, and its deafening sound 
was heard far and wide. The terror felt at this 
earthquake was redoubled in the hearts of the 
people, when it was remembered that a prophet, 
belonging to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, had 
predicted the event two years before. The fulfil- 
ment of this threat filled all hearts with fear, and 
the end of the world seemed at hand. Hardly had 
this terror subsided than a fresh misfortune broke 
upon them. The periodical falls of rain were inter- 
mitted, the dew no longer revived the fields, a pro- 
longed drought parched the vegetation, the springs 
became dried up, the intense heat of the sun 
transformed the meadows and pasture lands into a 


desert, man and beast thirsted for refreshment and 
food, whilst wild beasts wandered languidly about in 
the forest thickets. The inhabitants of the cities in 
which the water-supply was quite exhausted set out 
for the nearest city, hoping- to find a supply there, 
but were unable to satisfy their thirst. The drought 
extended over wide-spread territories, and also in 
districts periodically infested by swarms of locusts, 
to the north-east of Palestine, in the lava districts 
of Hauran. The locusts in search of nourishment 
flew across the Jordan to the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, and devoured all that had not been withered 
by the dry rot. In heavy swarms which obscured 
the sun, they flew onward, and suddenly the vines, 
fig and pomegranate trees, the palms and apple 
trees, were laid bare. These incursions of the 
locusts continued throughout several years. 

In the land of Judah, which had been brought to 
the verge of destruction by the fate of war, they had 
reached the highest degree of despair. It seemed 
as though God had deserted His heritage, people, 
country and temple, and had given them over to 
degradation and ruin. Public mourning and pil- 
grimages were instituted in order to avert the evil. 
The prophet Joel, the son of Pethuel, exhorted the 
people publicly in these days of trouble, and greatly 
contributed to raise their sinking courage. His 
stirring exhortations were, doubtless, not without 
effect, more especially as the destruction caused by 
the locusts began to cease, once more field and 
garden began to burst into blossom, the brooks and 
cisterns were filled, and the drought and famine were 
at an end. The young king immediately utilised 
the change, in order to chastise the enemies of 
Judah. He first turned his arms against the Idu- 
mseans, who had laid his land waste. He defeated 
them, because they were possibly no longer 
aided by the Egyptians, and he reduced Edom to 
^subjection. The town of Elath, on the banks of 


the Red Sea, he re-annexed to Judah, and the mari- 
time trade with Arabia and Ophir (India) could 
thus be renewed. The Maonites or Minites, who 
occupied a small territory in Idumsea, around the 
city of Maon (Maan), were subjugated by Uzziah, 
and compelled to pay tribute. He punished the 
Philistines, for, during his minority, they had en- 
gaged in hostile attacks on the Judseans, and had 
delivered over the refugees and emigrants to the 
Idumseans. He conquered the towns of Gath, 
Ashdod, Jabneh, which lay nearest to the land of 
Judah, and had their walls razed. He acquired 
portions of Philistia, united them to his own terri- 
tory, and erected fortified cities. 

He especially devoted himself to the task of for- 
tifying Jerusalem. The northern wall had been 
destroyed for the space of 400 yards during the 
prolonged war between his father and Jehoash of 
Israel. Owing to this circumstance the capital could 
offer no resistance to an enemy. Uzziah, therefore, 
had the northern wall rebuilt, or perhaps rendered 
it more capable of resisting attacks. He probably 
established friendly relations with Jeroboam II., or 
he would hardly have been able to commence the 
fortifications without risking a war. Uzziah had 
three towers built of 150 yards in height at the 
leaden gate, at the gate leading to the valley of 
Hinnom, and at the gate Hananel ; on the gate 
and on the tops of the walls were placed machines 
(Chishbonoth), by means of which heavy stones were 
hurled. Uzziah, in fact, displayed great energy in 
making warlike preparations, the warriors being 
provided with shields, armour and spears. He 
also employed cavalry and war-chariots, like those 
brought from Egypt in Solomon's time. 

Uzziah appears chiefly to have taken Solomon's 
kingdom as his model — the navigation of the Red 
Sea, from the harbour of Alilat, which Solomon 
had obtained from the Idumseans, was again re- 


newed, and great vessels (ships of Tarshish) were 
fitted out for the purpose. Altogether, therefore, 
Uzziah attained a position of predominance over 
the neighbouring nations. 

The kingdom of the Ten Tribes, at the same time, 
became possessed of great power under Jeroboam 
II., who was as warlike as Uzziah. In the latter 
period of his long reign he was engaged in con- 
tinual warfare with the Syrians. He conquered 
the capital Damascus, and pressed victoriously to 
the city of Hamath, which also fell before him. 
The nationalities which inhabited the district from 
Lebanon to the Euphrates, and which till then had 
paid allegiance to the kingdom of Damascus, be- 
came tributary to the king of Israel in conse- 
quence of these victories. Jeroboam had no longer 
any rival in his vicinity to contest the supreme 
power with him. The Phoenicians had become 
considerably weakened through the internal dissen- 
sions in the city of Tyre against King Ethbaal. 
During Jeroboam's government a civil war appears 
to have broken out in Tyre, and Phoenicia, which, 
for a considerable time, had occupied an important 
position, lost thereby a great part of its influence. 

Riches were distributed through Samaria from 
the booty, and perhaps from the renewed impulse to 
trade. Not only the king, but even the nobles and the 
wealthy classes, made a great display, even more so 
than in Solomon's time. King Jeroboam possessed 
a winter and summer palace. Houses formed of 
great blocks of stone, inlaid with ivory and fur- 
nished with ivory seats, became very common. In 
contemplating the increase of power in the two 
kingdoms, one could almost give way to the illu- 
sion that the times of Solomon were still enduring, 
and that no further change had occurred, except 
that two kings were ruling instead of one — that 
no breach had ever taken place, or that the wounds 
once inflicted had been healed. Jeroboam and 


Uzziah appear to have kept the peace together, 
Israelites were permitted to make pilgrimages un- 
molested to Beersheba. No doubt some of them 
also visited the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the 
last glimmer of a politically happy period. The 
internal weakness which made itself manifest con- 
sequent upon the prosperous times, even more 
prominently in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes 
than in the kingdom of Judah, soon put an end to 
these happy days, and hastened the decadence of 
the State. 

In Bethel and Dan the worship of the bull not 
only continued, but it assumed yet greater pro- 
portions. Images of the bull were also erected in 
Samaria and in Gilgal. Jeroboam appears to have 
elevated Bethel to the rank of a capital, and to 
have erected the chief sanctuary there, A sort 
of high priest, named Amaziah, ministered there, 
and appears to have been very jealous of his 
office. He had fields around Bethel, a rich 
benefice, unlike the priests of Aaron in Judah. 
But whether because this backsliding had not 
sufficed, or because the luxury consequent on 
the increased wealth of the kingdom had ren- 
dered another form of religion a necessity, the 
hideous worship of Baal and the immoral culture 
of Astarte were again introduced. It is extra- 
ordinary that this idolatry, which had been extir- 
pated with so much energy by Jehu, was again pro- 
moted and received fresh encouragement from his 
grandson. The idolatry thus newly re-introduced 
brought in its train every species of wickedness 
and misery. In order to gratify the senses, all 
thoughts were bent on acquiring riches. The 
landed proprietors made usury their business, and 
pursued their debtors with such severity as to 
make slaves of their impoverished debtors or 
their children. The wealthy, especially, sold grain 
at usurious interest. In the years of famine they 


Opened their granaries, and sold necessaries, for 
which purpose they used false weights and mea- 
sures ; and when the poor were unable to return 
what had been lent to them, they heartlessly took 
their clothing or even their persons in pledge. 
When these unfortunates uttered their complaint 
against such injustice in the national assemblies, 
they found no ear to listen ; for the judges were 
bribed by the evildoers, and were deaf to the voice 
of justice. The treasures thus extorted were wasted 
by their owners in daily-repeated acts of excess. 
The contemporary prophet Amos pictures in gloomy 
colours the sensual life of the rich and noble Israel- 
ites who lived in the chief towns in Jeroboam's 
time. The wives of the nobles copied the bad 
examples of their husbands, and urged them to 
be hard-hearted to the poor, demanding of them, 
*' Bring, only bring us wine, that we may drink." 

The Israelite nation could not, however, be so 
much influenced by the moral turpitude as to allow it 
to obtain full sway over their morality. Justice and 
the pure worship of God still had followers who 
protested more and more strongly against the vices 
practised by the great, and who, though in humble 
positions, obtained a hearing. Almost a century 
had passed since the prophet Elijah, with flowing 
hair, had declaimed against the sins of Ahab and 
Jezebel ; but the prophetic societies which he had 
founded still existed, and acted according to his 
spirit and with energy similar to his own. The 
young, who are generally more ready to receive 
ideal impressions, felt a disgust at the increasing 
moral ruin which came on them, and assembled 
round the prophetic centres in Bethel, Gilgal and 
Jericho. The generation which Elisha had reared 
and taught discarded these external symbols, but 
pursued the same Nazirite frugal mode of life, and 
wore long flowing hair ; but they did not stop at 
such outward signs but raised their voices against 

VOL. I. R 


the religious errors, against luxury and immorality. 
Sons became the moral judges of their fathers' cus- 
toms. Youths gave up drinking wine, whilst the 
men revelled in the drinking places. The youthful 
troop of prophets took the place of the warning 
voice of conscience. In the presence of king and 
nobles, they preached in the public assemblies 
against the worship of Baal, against immorality 
and the heartlessness of the great. Did their 
numbers shield them from persecution, or were 
there amongst the ranks of the prophets the sons 
of great people, against whom it was impossible 
to proceed with severity ? Or was King Jeroboam 
more patient than the accursed Jezebel, who had 
slaughtered the prophets' disciples by hundreds, or 
did their words fall heedlessly on his ears ? In 
any case it is noteworthy that the zealous youths 
remained unharmed. The revellers only compelled 
them to drink wine and forbade them to preach ; 
they derided the moral reformers who exposed 
their wrongdoings, but they did not persecute 

One of the prophets in the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes made use of this freedom of speech ; he was 
the first of a succession of prophets whose great 
poetical thoughts were revealed to the king, the 
nobility and the people, in the biting words of truth. 
Amos did not belong to the prophetic band, he was 
no prophetic disciple, wore no garment of hair, like 
Elijah, and probably did not let his hair grow long, 
but was a simple herdsman and planter of syca- 
mores. Whilst tending his herds, the prophetic 
spirit came so mightily upon him that he could not 
refrain from speaking publicly. God spake to him 
and in him, why then should he not prophesy? 
The prophetic spirit induced him to repair to 
Bethel, and there in the temporary capital of King 
Jeroboam II. he declaimed against the errors and 
sins of the nobles, and opened their eyes to the 

CH. XII. AMOS. 243 

consequences of their evil deeds. It must have 
created some excitement in Bethel, that a country- 
man, clad in shepherd's garb, should dare to speak 
publicly. A high degree of culture must have pre- 
vailed in those days in Samaria, when a shepherd 
was able to make a speech in beautiful rhythmic 
utterances and be understood by the nation, or that 
he should be justified in expecting that they would 
comprehend him. The speeches of Amos and 
those of his successors combine the eloquence and 
comprehensibility of prose with the metre and 
the rhythm of poetry. By metaphors and imagery 
they raised the standard of poetic diction to a yet 
greater height. It is therefore difficult to decide 
whether these utterances should be considered as 
prose or as poetry. In place of a more suitable 
description they may be designated beautifully 
expressed poetic utterances. The orations of Amos 
were certainly not such as to make one lose sight 
of his station. He used similes taken from his 
shepherd life. They showed that, while tending his 
flocks, he had often listened to the roaring of the 
lion, and that he must have studied the stars in his 
night watches. But these peculiarities only lent a 
special charm to his speeches. Amos came to 
Bethel before the earthquake had occurred, and he 
predicted the event in words of prophetic foresight. 
The earthquake thereupon followed, with all its 
accompanying terrors, and carried desolation every- 
where. It was succeeded by the plagues of 
drought, sterility of the soil, and the pest of locusts. 
The kingdom of the Ten Tribes was smitten equally 
with the kingdom of Judah. Amos, and those who 
were well inclined, expected therefrom a return to 
a better state, and a cessation of those evil deeds 
committed by the heartless persecutors of the poor. 
But no improvement took place, and Amos in- 
veighed against the impenitent sinners in the 
severest terms. He scorned the men who ridiculed 

R 2 


his prophetic utterances. He denounced those who 
gloried in their own power or piety, or in their 
ancient descent, and who felt themselves to be 
unassailable. (Amos v. 4-15, vi. 1-8.) 

Against such daring speeches, which Amos even 
employed towards the royal house, the high priest 
of Bethel felt himself compelled to protest — 
Amaziah called King Jeroboam's attention to it. 
He, however, seems, either from indifference or 
out of respect for the prophet, to have abstained 
from all proceedings against him. He also appears 
to have remained unmoved at the prophet's threat, 
and in no way to have persecuted Amos. It was 
probably in his name that Amaziah merely said to 
him, *' Go thou, haste to Judah ; eat thy bread and 
prophesy there, but in Bethel thou mayest not re- 
main, for it is the sanctuary^ of the king, and the 
capital of the kingdom." Amos did not permit 
himself to be interrupted in his preaching, but re- 
plied, *^ I am no prophet and no prophetic disciple, 
but only a shepherd and planter; but the Lord spake 
unto me, * Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.' " 
In the strongest language, he concluded with a 
threat of punishment. It is noteworthy that he 
did not protest against the evil deeds in Judah with 
the same energy, but that he displayed a certain 
amount of leniency towards the kingdom governed 
by the house of David. He entered into no par- 
ticulars concerning the sins which were rife there, 
but only spoke of them in general terms. He pre- 
dicted a happy future for the kingdom of Judah, 
while predicting woe of Israel. 

" Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and 
I will destroy it from off the face of the earth ; saving that I will not 
utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord." 

He added a petition to his predictions that new 
plagues would descend upon the land, in which he 
said, '*Lord God, cease, I beseech thee; by whom 
shall Jacob rise, for he is small ? *' (Amos vii. 2, 5.) 

CH. xir. JOEL. 245 

The state of weakness which had fallen on Judah 
since the death of Amaziah, and from which it had 
not yet recovered in the first years of Uzziah's 
reign, filled the prophet Amos with compassion. 
He did not wish to discourage the nation and court 
still further, but prophesied the future reunion of 
the tribes under the house of David. 

At this time another prophet arose in Jerusalem, 
named Joel, the son of Pethuel. Most of the 
prophets were of obscure origin, and returned 
to obscurity without leaving a trace of their 
individuality, which was entirely merged in their 
deeds or works. Joel appeared at a time when 
all minds had been terrified or rendered almost 
hopelessly despairing by the repeated attacks 
of the Idumceans and neighbouring nations, 
by the successive plagues of the earthquake, 
drought, and the ravages of the locusts. The 
inhabitants of Jerusalem and the country be- 
came exhausted by long fasts and lamentations ; 
they tore their garments as a sign of mourning, 
and, collecting with cries and tears in the temple, 
they endeavoured to avert the Divine anger. The 
priests were filled with the same terror. Joel, there- 
fore, had a different task to Amos ; he could not 
blame and threaten the people, but he had to raise 
their spirits and encourage or arouse those who 
were sunk in despair. He could not openly de- 
nounce the sins and errors of the nation, but he 
merely hinted at them ; he only spoke lightly 
of the drunkards, who now had no wine ; he spoke 
of external atonement, which merely consisted 
in tearing their garments, but which left the heart 
untouched, and of the mistaken idea that the Deity 
could not be appeased without the sacrifice of 
burnt offerings. Joel had to exert his whole 
flow of eloquence in order to impress on the nation 
that God's mercy had not departed from them, that 
Zion was yet His holy mountain; that He would 


not deliver up His people to disgrace; that He 
was long-suffering and full of mercy, and that 
their imminent misfortunes might be turned aside 
without burnt offerings and fasts. 

Joel's power of speech was, perhaps, even greater 
than that of Amos. His highly coloured description 
of the ravages of the locusts and the accompanying 
plagues is a stirring picture. The reader feels 
himself to be an eye-witness. Joel's prophetic elo- 
quence, also, is something between poetry and 
prose, and is distinguished by its metre, and even a 
sort of versification. The only speech of his which 
has been preserved is divided into two halves ; in the 
one half he describes the misfortunes of the nation, 
blames their perverted ideas, and points out how 
those ideas must be changed ; and in the other he 
seeks to fill their hearts with a joyous hope for the 
future. Joel endeavoured to rouse his trembling, 
wailing and despondent hearers, who had collected 
on the Temple Mount, from the contemplation of 
their present troubles, and the narrow boundaries of 
their present sorrow. He told them that God had 
sent the plagues as forerunners of a yet more hor- 
rible time, of fearful and terrible days which should 
purify them and lead to a higher order of morality. 
The sorrows of the present would pass away 
and be forgotten. Then the great day would 
come. Joel predicted political changes, when the 
enslaved Jews of Jerusalem, whom the Philistines 
and Syrians had sold to the lonians, and who 
had been scattered by them far and wide, should 
again return. The people who had performed 
acts of cruelty would be severely punished in 
the valley of Justice (Emek Jehoshaphat), where 
God pronounces judgment on all nations. Then 
Egypt and Idumsea should become deserts, for 
they had shed the innocent blood of the Judseans ; 
but Judah and Jerusalem would be inhabited 
throughout all generations. Then a higher state 

CH. XII. HOSEA. ^ 247 

of morality would begin, and all creatures would 
be filled with the divine spirit of prophecy. 

"And it shall come to pass afterwards that I will pour out my 
spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons and your daughters shall pro- 
phesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see 
visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in 
those days will I pour out my spirit.'' (Joel iii. 28.) 

The wish which has been attributed to Moses 
(Numbers xi. 29), will, according to Joel's pro- 
phecy, be realized at some future time. Not only 
Israelites born in the land, but also the strangers 
who lived as slaves in their families, would have a 
share in this kingdom of God, and would become 
worthy of the gift of prophecy, which had already 
extended beyond the boundaries of nationalities. 

Hosea, son of Beeri, the third prophet of Jero- 
boam and Uzziah's times, spoke yet more de- 
cidedly against the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and 
in favour of the house of Jacob. Nothing is known 
of his life and actions ; we are not even told the 
name of the kingdom in which he was born. It is, 
however, probable that he first appeared in Bethel 
or Samaria. Whilst Amos was making moral fail- 
ings the object of his rebuke and scorn, Hosea was 
declaiming against the religious secession of the 
kingdom of the Ten Tribes, who had returned to 
the worship of Baal. He did not possess the flow 
of speech nor the metrical expression of his two 
contemporaries ; his language was usually in the 
form of prose. It was more difiuse, more eloquent ; 
he introduces metaphorical names, as was customary 
in the prophetic school from which Hosea appears 
to have come. He illustrated his meaning in a 
double metaphor. He represented the introduction 
of the worship of Baal amongst the Ten Tribes and 
their subsequent return to God, as the conduct of a 
faithless wife who afterwards returns to the path of 
duty. To this Hosea superadded an introduction. 
In a prophetic vision he receives the command 


to take home the faithless wife, and to rear her 
children. He explains how he follows the com- 
mand, and brings home a woman of evil repute, 
who bears him three children — a son, Jezreel, a 
daughter, whom he called ''Unloved" (Lo-Rucha- 
mah), and a second son, named "Not of My 
Nation" (Lo-Ammi). The prophet explained these 
metaphorical names ; thus, Jezreel meant two 
things — in the first place, that God would visit on 
the house of Jehu the blood that their forefathers 
had shed in Jezreel ; and further Jezreel denoted 
that God would destroy the armies of Israel in the 
Valley of Jezreel. The name of the daughter 
meant, that God would no longer care for the house 
of Israel ; and, lastly, the name of the second 
son denoted that the God of Israel had deserted 
the nation, and would no longer be its God. 
After the introduction and explanation, the prophet 
Hosea began his address. He describes the entire 
extent of the faithlessness of the house of Israel 
in the metaphor of an adultress who pursues her 
lover (Baal), in the belief that riches and wealth 
should come from him, forgetting that God had 
endowed her with the corn and wine, the silver and 
gold, which she was wasting on the idol Baal ; 
God would therefore deprive her of everything, 
and not leave her even sufficient clothing to cover 
her body. In her need she would be overcome 
by repentance, and say, "I will return to my 
first love, for then all w^ill go well with me." The 
prophet then pictures the return of the faithless 
wife, who would be deeply impressed with a know- 
ledge of her past wickedness, and, turning to her 
husband, would call unto him, " My husband and 
my lord," for the name "master" (Baal) would 
have become hateful to her. (Hosea ii.) 

The nation, depicted as the repentant wife, would 
again be pardoned by God, as in the days of the 
exodus from Egypt ; from the desert she would be 

CH. XII. hosea's VISIONS. 249 

led back to her fatherland, and would once more 
sing her psalms of praise as in the time of her 
youth, and in the days when she first left Egypt. 
The union that would again subsist between her 
God and her would shield her from the wild beasts, 
and war would cease. Jezreel, the "Unloved," 
would be once more loved, and '' Not of My 
Nation" would again become God's people, and 
would acknowledge their God. 

If Hosea unrolled a glowing picture of the future 
of the Ten Tribes, he did not desire to mislead his 
hearers by leaving them in the error that such a 
time was close at hand. In a second oration, which 
was probably not fully preserved, he predicts that 
many unhappy days would intervene before the 
return of the Ten Tribes could ' take place and 
before their atonement should be completed. This 
speech he also introduced in the shape of a vision. 
God had commanded him again to take into his 
house a faithless but much-loved wife. She was 
not to bear him children, but he was to keep her 
apart, and not permit her to mix with men. This 
vision denoted that, though God loved the Israelite 
nation, they had yet, forgetting all ties of honour 
and duty, given themselves up to the worship of 
the images of Astarte and Chammon. And it de- 
noted further, that the sons of Israel would remain 
long without a king or a prince, without an altar or 
columns, without an ephod or the house-gods or 
mummies (Teraphim) ; till at last, purified by 
severe trials, they should return to God in the latter 
days. Hosea prophesied the total destruction of 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. On the other 
hand, he laid even more stress than contemporary 
prophets on the endurance of the house of David 
and of the kingdom of Judah. 

Hosea nevertheless blamed Uzziah for the war- 
like preparations on which he laid so much im- 
portance. National sin in the one kingdom and 


misfortunes in the other brought the precious ore 
of prophetic eloquence from the hidden depths, and 
enabled it to obtain a wide- reaching influence. The 
sins of Ahab and Jezebel aroused Elijah, and the 
evil deeds of Jeroboam II. and his nobles drew 
Amos away from his flocks, and brought Hosea out 
of his quiet life into publicity. They were enabled 
to disseminate in an attractive form the thoughts 
which filled their hearts and minds. Their fears 
and hopes, their thoughts and convictions, became 
thenceforth the common property of a great circle, 
and inspired others with the same soul-stirring and 
ennobling ideas. The attentive disciples of the 
prophet imprinted his teachings on their memories 
or recorded them in writing. They formed the first 
pages of prophetic literature, which, later on, were to 
rouse up the hardened nations of the earth. Whilst 
Amos, Hosea and Joel held forth in prophetic 
visions the prospect of a better future, though only 
in dim outlines, they insured the future of the 
nation from which they sprung, for a nation which 
looks confidently forward to a happy future is safe 
against destruction, and does not permit itself to 
be crushed by the most terrible trials in the present. 
One of these prophets — Joel or Hosea, drew a pic- 
ture of the future, to which the noblest minds have 
clung, and to which they still hold fast. (Isaiah ii. 

This grand picture of everlasting peace, founded 
on the teachings of Israel, which depicted the 
transformation of instruments of war into imple- 
ments of agricultural labour, is far superior to all 
such works of art as merely attract the eye and 
mind of man. The Israelite prophets predicted 
that moral improvement and eternal peace, the 
outcome of the Law, would be taught in Zion. 
The hostile tone which the two prophets assumed 
towards the house of Jehu was not without eflect. 
Just as Elisha and his disciples raised up an enemy 


against the Omris, so the energy of Amos and 
Hosea provoked attempts against the last of the 

Jeroboam 11. died peacefully at an advanced age, 
after a long and happy reign, but no sooner had 
his son Zechariah ascended the tl;irone (769), than 
a conspiracy was formed against him. The ring- 
leader was Shallum, son of Jabesh, and he killed 
the fourth descendant of Jehu in Ibleam. Zecha- 
riah reigned only a few months. His murderer 
destroyed the royal house of Jeroboam II., follow- 
ing the example set by Jehu in dealing with the 
house of Ahab. Even the women and children 
were slain. Shallum then went to Samaria, in 
order to take possession of the throne and king- 
dom, but he could only maintain his position for 
the space of one month. For a conspiracy was 
also instituted against him by Menahem, the 
son of Gadi, a former inhabitant of the capital 
Tirzah. He proceeded towards Samaria, and was 
admitted into the capital without difficulty. He 
killed Shallum (768), but no doubt met with greater 
opposition than he expected. Even though the 
capital opened its gates to him, other towns did 
not immediately submit. The town of Tiphsah 
(Tapuach) shut its doors against him. Menahem, 
however, was more daring than his predecessor, 
and united with his courage the utmost hardness 
of heart. He laid siege to the rebellious city, 
and, having compelled it to surrender, he there- 
upon executed the entire population — men, women, 
and children, not even sparing pregnant women. 
After this massacre he proceeded to Samaria, 
where he seized upon the throne of the Jehus. 
A chief who displayed cruelty such as this could 
hardly expect to win all hearts. Menahem 
appears to have abolished the worship of 
Baal. The worship of the bull, however, was still 
continued. During this reign a powerful king- 


dom became concerned in the history of the Ten 
Tribes, and was destined to put an end to the 
house of Israel. 

The better portion of that house, disgusted by 
the evil doings described by the prophets, turned 
to the house of Judah, whence they were, however, 
repulsed by equally reprehensible conditions. In- 
ternal dissensions broke out under Uzziah, which, 
it appears, were purposely ignored. Uzziah' s aim 
seems to have been wholly and solely directed 
to military affairs — the acquisition of bows, shields, 
and spears. Mental improvement had no interest 
for him, it was even distasteful. Uzziah gave 
offence to the Aaronites more especially, and 
the peaceful understanding which had existed 
between royalty and the priesthood since the time 
of his grandfather Joash, became shaken when the 
king endeavoured to extend his sway over the 
Temple. He was opposed by the high priests, 
whose power was equal to that of the descendants 
of David. It is certain that in the latter years of 
Uzziah' s government disputes broke out between 
him and the high priest Azariah, similar to those 
between King Joash and Zechariah. In order to 
deprive the high priest of his important office, 
Uzziah took a bold step. He entered the sanctuary 
and began to light the incense-burner on the 
golden altar, an act which was the especial privi- 
lege and duty of the high priest. The Aaronites 
felt the greatest anger at this act. The high 
priest, Azariah, who together with eighty priests 
had followed the king into the sanctuary, angrily 
reproved him, saying, **It is not for thee, O 
Uzziah, to bring incense, but only for the anointed 
priest of Aaron's family. Leave the sanctuary: 
thou art guilty of desecration, and it cannot bring 
thee honour." 

What followed is not known. Uzziah in the 
Jatter years of his reign was attacked by an in- 

CH. XII. . UZZIAH. V 253 

curable skin disease, and had to be kept in a 
special house for the rest of his days. The nation 
considered this illness as a divine punishment for 
his sins, inflicted because he had dared to per- 
form the rites of the priesthood. 

In this contest between the sacerdotal and royal 
houses the former was triumphant, for it possessed 
the Law as its weapon, and this was of greater 
avail than the sword, but another mighty power 
w^as now about to join in the contest. 



King Menahem — The Babylonians and the Assyrians — Pekah — 
Jotham's reign — Isaiah of Jerusalem — His style and influence — 
His first public address — Later speeches — Their immediate and 
permanent effect — His disciples — Their characteristics — Zecha- 
riah — His prophecies. 

758—740 B.C. 

While Uzziah, compelled by his disease, was pass- 
ing- his last years in solitude, his youthful son Jotham 
took the management of affairs. In the kingdom of 
the Ten Tribes, Menahem, the cruel usurper (768- 
758), was probably ruling with an iron hand. Both 
kingdoms continued in the same grooves, uncon- 
scious of the fact that in the distant horizon 
storm-laden clouds were gathering which would 
discharge themselves on them with fearful effect. 
From Assyria and the districts of the Euphrates 
and Tigris the people of both kingdoms were about 
to be subjected to heavy trials. 

No sooner had the Assyrians extended their terri- 
tory in the north, east and west, than they turned 
their attention to the south. They endeavoured, 
in the first place, to gain possession of the sea- 
coast of the Phoenicians, and thus to obtain control 
over the wealth of that commercial nation. They 
next hoped to conquer Egypt, where the wealth and 
renown of the people filled them with a desire for 
victor^'. For the first time an Assyrian army, under 
the command of King Pul, appeared on Israelite 
ground. King Menahem did not dare to oppose his 
forces, to this mighty host. The internal confusion 
must have greatly crippled his powers, and opposi- 


tion was therefore out of the question. The curse 
of the regicide oppressed him with its consequences 
even more heavily than it affected his nation. Mena- 
hem was hated by his people, for the cruel means 
by which he had obtained possession of the throne 
was ever fresh in their memories. The friends of 
the murdered king kept alive this hostile feeling. 
When Pul arrived on Israelite ground it appears 
that the enemies of Menahem suggested to the 
invader the advisability of dethroning the king. 
Menahem, meanwhile, betook himself to the Assy- 
rian conqueror, and promised him a large sum of 
money on condition that his government was left 
secure. Pul accepted the money and retired from 
the country, carrying his booty and prisoners with 
him. Menahem did not draw the money from his 
own treasury, but forced wealthy individuals to 
provide it. Each one had to pay what was at that 
time a heavy sum, viz., 50 shekels. 

Thus came the beginning of the end, and the 
fate which Amos had clearly predicted half a cen- 
tury before, appeared to be in process of realization. 
He had said that a distant nation should carry off 
the Israelites to a foreign land beyond Damascus. 
The Israelites were in fact carried off to the region 
of the Tigris, or to one of the divisions of the great 
Assyrian kingdom. The kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, however, seemed to all appearance unhurt. 
It numbered 60,000 wealthy men, who could pay 
large sums of tribute money. Menahem still had 
his cavalry — his sinews of war — and the fortresses 
on which he thought he could still place depend- 
ence. But, without his knowledge, old age (as 
one of the prophets had rightly designated the 
national decadence) had now crept over the people. 
Menahem probably introduced the Assyrian mode 
of worship. One characteristic feature of this 
consisted in the adoration of Mylitta, the goddess 
of love, and the duties of her creed included the 


renunciation of virtue and the adoption of an im- 
moral life. This innovation, added to the already 
existing internal dissensions, gradually sapped the 
foundations of the State. When the cruel Menahem 
died, and his son Pekahiah succeeded (757), the 
latter was only able to retain the throne for two 
years. His own charioteer, Pekah, the son of Rema- 
liah, headed a conspiracy against him, and killed 
him in his palace in Samaria (756), and placed 
himself on the vacant throne. The mode of regi- 
cide, the seventh which had occurred since the 
commencement of the kingdom of Ten Tribes, is 
wrapped in darkness; it seems, however, that 
Pekah had to remove two other competitors before 
he could himself ascend the throne of Samaria. 

The son of Remaliah, the last king but one in 
Israel (755-736), was an inconsiderate and ruthless 
man who oppressed the country to an even greater 
extent than his predecessors. He was characterised 
as a faithless shepherd, "who deserted his flock, 
who sought not the missing ones, who healed not 
the wounded, who tended not the sick, and who 
also devoured the flesh of the healthy." In order 
to protect himself against the attacks of the As- 
syrians he entered into an alliance which the neigh- 
bouring princes had established in order to resist 
the encroachments of the Assyrians. The plan 
probably originated in Damascus which now once 
more owned a king, named Rezin, and which would 
be the first to suffer from the Assyrian conqueror. 
Judah was also drawn in. Uzziah, the king, having j; 
died in his house of skin disease, his son Jotham, | 
who had ruled for many years as protector, assumed •; 
the title of King (754-740). Jotham had no very - 
striking qualities. He w^as neither ambitious nor \ 
statesmanlike, but he kept in the grooves in which I 
his father had moved. He seems to have been at \ 
peace within his own realm ; there is at least no \ 
account of any dispute between him and the high- 

H. xm. JOTHAM. 257 

priest. Abroad, the conditions remained the same 
as under Uzziah. He continued to maintain the 
squadrons of cavalry, the war chariots, and the 
ships of Tarshish which navigated the Red Sea, 
and was thereby enabled to acquire fresh riches and 
glory. Jotham also strengthened the fortifications 
of Jerusalem. He maintained friendly relations with 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or rather with their 
king, Pekah, and there seems to have been a very 
intimate connection between the two sovereigns. 
In Judah itself, however, the ambitious nobility 
exerted an injurious influence on the morals 
of the people, the evil being especially strong 
in the capital. Through circumstances which 
cannot now be traced, some of the noble families 
had attained a height of power that exalted them 
almost to equality with the king. The princes 
of Judah led the councils, decided the most im- 
portant affairs of State, usurped the powers of 
justice, and so thoroughly obscured the dignity of 
the house of David that but a mere shadow of its 
authority remained. In this house there existed 
a princely family, from which the superintendent of 
the palace seems always to have been chosen. This 
high official oppressed the court and attendants to 
such an extent, and attained to such power and 
influence, that he was considered the actual regent. 
He was known by the title of Manager of the Court 

Other evils arose out of these abuses. The 
princes of Judah sought to enrich themselves by 
all possible means, and to obtain possession of 
the pasture lands, vineyards, and meadows of the 
country people, and to extend their territories. 
Things seem to have reached such a pitch that the 
nobles and elders had the erections on their vast 
possessions built by slaves or by the poor whom 
they had themselves reduced to slavery. They 
did not hesitate to make serfs of the children of 

VOL. I. s 


those poor who were unable to pay their debts, 
and they had to tread the mill. With this cruel 
injustice another sin was combined. The princes 
of Judah entered into connections with the king- 
dom of the Ten Tribes. Here, and especially in the 
capital Samaria, the greatest excesses were to 
some extent sanctified, and formed a constituent 
part of the divine worship. Here there were Temple- 
priestesses in numbers. In the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes sacrifices were offered on the summits 
of the mountains and hills, whilst vice held its 
ground in the shade of the oaks and terebinths. 
So great had been its progress, that daughters 
did not remain untainted, but followed the example 
of their fathers. Wine and depravity had so 
vitiated the mJnds of the great, that they only 
cared for enjoyment, and desired to pass their 
lives in a continuous course of pleasure. They 
arose early in the morning and had recourse to 
the wine-cup, and till late at night they inflamed 
their blood with wine. At such entertainments 
they had the noisy music of flutes, trumpets, harps, 
and lutes. This was an innocent amusement com- 
pared to their other pleasures, but the severe 
morality enjoined by the Sinaitic Law was hostile 
to dissipation. As long as this Law held sway the 
love of pleasure could not be fully gratified. At 
this time the custom arose of consulting blocks 
of wood and sticks as oracles concerning the future. 
From these the nobles of the kingdom of the Ten 
Tribes, ** the drunkards of Ephraim," learnt how 
to follow their evil desires. Divine service in the 
Temple of Jerusalem was, it is true, ofificially re- 
cognized : but this did not prevent the princes from 
following their own mode of worship privately. The 
brotherly fusion of Israel and Judah chiefly resulted 
in making idolatry, dissipation, intoxication, pride, 
and scorn of what was right, the common property 
of both kingdoms. 


However, depraved as the Israelite and Judaean 
nobles had become, they yet abstained from lega- 
lising their depravity, and thus they avoided its 
universal promulgation. Amongst the Israelites 
immorality never went so far as to make in- 
justice appear as right. There were men who 
loudly declaimed against the mockery of jus- 
tice, and the oppression of the poor ; men 
who defended justice and morality as the only 
right course ; men who supported the weak against 
the mighty. Just at this period of degradation, 
while Jotham ruled in Judah and Pekah in Israel, 
several God-inspired men arose, who spoke with 
words of fire against the vices of the nobility. 
This was the last generation of great prophets 
who succeeded Amos, Joel, and Hosea, as these 
had followed Elijah and Elisha. 

The most important amongst them was Isaiah, 
son of Amoz, from Jerusalem. Together with his 
contemporary prophets, Zechariah, Hosea, and 
Micah, he shared the courage which calls vice 
and crime by their right names, and which mer- 
cilessly brands the guilty. He surpassed all his 
predecessors in depth of thought, beauty of rhythm, 
exaltation of poetical expression, in the accuracy 
of his similes, and in the clearness of his prophetic 
vision. Isaiah's eloquence combined simplicity with 
beauty of speech, with directness and biting irony, 
with an inspiring flow of language. But little is 
known of Isaiah's mode of life. His wife was also 
gifted with prophetic insight. He wore the usual 
prophet's dress — a garment of goatskin. Like 
Elijah, he considered his prophetic task as the 
labour of his life. His energies were entirely 
directed to exposing wickedness, to warning and 
exhorting the nation, and to holding before it the 
ideal of a future, to attain which it must strive 
with heart and soul. He gave his sons symbolical 
names, indicative of the events about to occur 

s 2 


and which might serve as a sign and an example. 
For more than forty years (755-710) he fulfilled 
his prophetic office with untiring and unshaken 
courage. On hopeless occasions, when all — great 
and small, kings and princes — despaired, his con- 
fidence never deserted him, but aroused the hope 
and courage of his people. 

Isaiah first appeared in the year of King Uzziah's 
death (755), when he was about thirty- three years 
of age. He announced to the nation (probably on 
Mount Zion) the vision with which he had been 
visited, and described how he had been chosen as 
a prophet. Isaiah's first speech was a short, 
simple communication of the vision revealed to 
him, the deep meaning of which could not be mis- 
understood. He related that he had seen in a 
dream Jehovah Zebaoth on a high and exalted 
throne, surrounded by the winged seraphim. One 
seraph after another cried, " Holy, holy, holy is 
Jehovah Zebaoth" with such thrilling voices that 
the very supports of the Temple trembled : 

" Then I said, Woe is me, for I am undone ; I am a man of un- 
clean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for 
mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. 

" Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his 
hand, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar, and he laid it 
upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips ; thine 
iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." 

In his first poem Isaiah only touched lightly on 
the sins of the nobles, but hinted that they were 
deaf to purer convictions. In another poem, which 
has been preserved, he went into greater detail, 
and more especially held up a mirror to the princes 
of Judah wherein they might see their folly and 
sin. He described the ideal destiny of the people 
of Israel and of the Law, and of the Temple which 
had been placed in their charge, and he chose 
for his purpose the undying words of an older 
prophet: — 

cH.xiii. isaiah's first address. 261 

" For from Zion shall the law go forth, and the word of the Lord 
from Jerusalem." 

In this speech Isaiah touched the root of the evil 
which had produced a state of religious demorali- 
sation and most heartless injustice. It had arisen in 
a thirst for pleasure and sensuality, and was kept 
alive by the women, to satisfy whom the men were 
continually urged to commit depredations and 
to pillage and enslave their weaker neighbours. 
With surprising force the prophet describes the 
love of display of the daughters of Zion. In 
order to leave this sad picture, the speaker con- 
tinues in a cheery, hope-inspiring strain : — 

"The Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, 
and upon her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day and tlie shining 
of a flaming fire by night. For upon all the glory shall be a defence. 
There shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the 
heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from 

It may be questioned whether this masterly 
speech, perfect though it was in subject and form, 
exercised any immediate influence. It led to no 
lasting improvement, for Isaiah and his contempo- 
rary prophets had often to preach against the same 
errors and the same sins. The nobles were not to be 
so easily improved ; they sneered at the threatening 
future with a scornful smile. But Isaiah's powerful 
words were not spoken quite in vain ; they influenced 
people to whom they were not especially addressed ; 
they were heard in distant lands and distant nations 
in days then far off. Isaiah did not content him- 
self with inveighing against sin ; he depicted a 
moral ideal, through the realisation of which men 
would find happmess and contentment. The king 
should rule with justice, and should see that the 
princes also govern according to right. The king 
should not judge by appearances, and should not 
listen to all that he hears. Isaiah treated with great 
contempt the hypocrisy which praises God with the 


lips, whilst the heart is dumb. He scorned still 
more the offering of sacrifices by unprincipled and 
wicked men. (Isaiah xxix. 13.) 

Isaiah appears to have used other means besides 
those of soul-stirring- sermons, in order to heal the 
moral and religious ills of Judah. He adopted the 
measures of Elijah and Samuel, and assembled 
around himself those who shared his opinions, or he 
instructed young men who were imbued with his 
spirit. He selected those who had suffered from 
the injustice and tyranny of the nobles of Judah ; 
he drew the discontented and sensitive into his 
circle; they became at once his disciples and his 
children. He did not instil into them hasty and 
ungovernable zeal, but he impressed on them the 
virtues of gentleness, patience, and entire resigna- 
tion to God. The members of the circle which he 
had collected around him were called the ** gentle 
ones," or *'the sufferers of the land" (Anve-Arez, 
Anavim). They were mostly of poor family, or 
they had become impoverished through the depre- 
dations of the nobles. They either called them- 
selves or were called by others the **poor" (Dallim, 
Ebionim). From Isaiah they learnt to refrain from 
complaints against their sorrow and pain, and to 
trust in God and submit to His will. These *' gentle 
ones" formed a special community ; they were con- 
sidered the kernel and support of the nation by the 
prophet Isaiah and his successors, and to them all 
hearts were turned. They were expected to im- 
prove and purify the entire people and to serve as 
a pattern to the whole nation. The light shed by 
these great prophets cast beneficent rays around ; 
germs of thought, which lay hidden in the teachings 
of Sinai, came to light, and the mental rule of the 
nation became established through them. Isaiah, 
therefore, became an important feature in the 
national history of the people of Israel, as Samuel 
and, in a lesser degree, Elijah had been before him. 


Isaiah's prophetic labours were not confined to his 
nation and country ; they extended beyond the 
boundaries to the two great states of Egypt and 
Assyria, which, like great cloud-masses, were cast- 
ing lightning-flashes over Israel and Judah. 

Another prophet, named Zechariah, son of Bere- 
chiah, rose up against the continued perversions of 
the times. This prophet could not compete with 
the fiery and graceful eloquence of his contemporary, 
Isaiah. He is wanting in power and sequence; he 
does not let thought follow thought, but he passes 
without any connection from one subject to another. 
The language of Zechariah is poetically beautiful, 
and he endeavours to carry out the metrical rules ; 
but he does not keep to the rhythmical nor usual 
forms of poetry. He frequently confuses the meta- 
phor of a shepherd as applied to the king with that 
of a shepherd as applied to the nation. He cer- 
tainly unrolls the picture of a glorious future in 
order to relieve the dispiriting present. He shows 
how the neighbouring nations, who were hostile to 
Israel — the Aramseans, Tyrians, and even the 
Philistines — would acknowledge the God of Israel 
and would be accepted as His children, when they 
should lay aside their evil deeds and their false 

The prophet Zechariah further announced that 
God would make peace between the house of Judah 
and the house of Ephraim, and that He would bring 
back their exiles. Even though He had dispersed 
them amongst the nations, they would still re- 
main true in their banishment, and return to Him 
with their children. The pride of Assyria would be 
humbled ; the Egyptian plague be stayed. This de- 
claration closed with the prospect that of the entire 
nation only a third should survive. But even this 
remnant would only be sufficiently purified by trials 
to render it the people of God. Zechariah made 
special allusions to Pekah king of Israel as the 


** false shepherd," who had treated his flock more 
ruthlessly than his predecessors. He relates how 
God appointed a shepherd over His people, and 
gave him two staves — one named *' mercy," and the 
other *' peace." But the nation had renounced God, 
and therefore it had been renounced by God, who 
broke the staff of mercy, and set aside the covenant 
He had made with all the tribes of Israel ; and now 
He had broken the second staff, the "staff of friend- 
ship" between the tribes of Israel and Judah. God 
had placed over them a foolish shepherd, who did 
not seek the wandering lambs — who did not heal 
the wounded, and who devoured the flesh of the 
healrhy ones. The nation, it is true, deserved no 
better guide; nevertheless, the shepherd who had 
thus deserted his flock would surely incur the chas- 
tisement of God. 




The Reign of Ahaz — His Character— Alliance between Pekah and 
Rezin — Tiglath-Pileser and Assyria — Ahaz seeks Assyrian Aid — 
Isaiah's Opposition — Defeat of Pekah and Rezin — Introduction 
of Assyrian Worship — Human Sacrifices — The Second Micah — 
Samaria after Pekah's Death — Assyria and Egypt — Hoshea — 
Samaria taken by Shalmaneser — The Exile — Hezekiah — His 
Early Measures — His Weakness of Character — Isaiah's Eftbrts 
to Restrain Hezekiah from War with Assyria — Arrangements for 
the Defence— Change of Policy — Isaiah Predicts the Deliverance 
— Micah — Rabshakeh's Embassy — Hezekiah's Defiance — His 
Illness and Recovery — The Destruction of Sennacherib's Army 
— Merodach-baladan — Hezekiah's Rule — The Psalmists — Death 
of Hezekiah. 

739—696 B.C. 

The bond of union which connected Judah and 
Israel, under Uzziah and Jotham, was snapped 
asunder on the death of the latter, and dissensions 
filled all minds. The cause of this can only be 
conjectured. The new king of Judah, Ahaz (739- 
725), who ascended the throne in his twenty-fifth 
year, was a weakling, with confused ideas, and 
by no means equal to his dangerous position. 
Important political complications occurred during 
his reign, in the threads of which he became hope- 
lessly entangled. Shortly after his accession to the 
throne he had to decide a question of great import, 
namely, whether he would join the alliance formed 
by Pekah of Israel, Rezin king of Damascus, and 
other less important confederates. This alliance 
was formed to meet a twofold danger. On the 
one side was Egypt, which had become powerful 
under King Sabako, and on the other side Assyria, 
which was also governed by a king ambitious of 


conquest. He had with a strong hand reduced to 
subjection refractory tributary states. 

After the death of King Pul, the last descendant 
of the royal house of the Derketades, an energetic 
king ascended the throne of Assyria, who not only 
re-united the crumbling kingdom, but gave it still 
greater power and extent ; this was Tiglath-Pileser. 
After capturing and destroying the fortresses of 
Mesopotamia, he turned towards the countries west- 
wards of the Euphrates and in the neighbourhood 
of Lebanon. He wished to enslave the kingdoms 
which Pul had subjugated, and make them depen- 
dencies of Assyria. In order to oppose the Assyrian 
conqueror, Rezin, king of Aram-Damascus, formed 
an offensive and defensive alliance with Pekah, and 
was desirous of securing the co-operation of Ahaz. 
The latter, however, refused to join them, and the 
two kings, it appears, then sought to enter into a 
treaty with the Philistines and the other neigh- 
bouring nations, for the purpose of attacking 

This plan occasioned great alarm in the house of 
David, and Ahaz then had recourse to a fatal step. 
He sent secret messengers to the Assyrian king, 
Tiglath-Pileser, and asked him for help against his 
enemies. At the same time he offered himself as a 
vassal, and his land as an Assyrian province. 
This step might bring him momentary help, but 
could only endanger the whole future. 

Isaiah, with his prophetic insight, looked far into 
the future, and warned the king against acting 
rashly. He went to Ahaz, to the spot near the lake, 
where he was continuing his work of fortification. 
Isaiah was accompanied by his son Shear Jashub, 
from whose heart he wished to eradicate fear. In 
clear and simple yet eloquent language, he revealed 
to him the future. He then pointed out the evils 
likely to result from an alliance with the Assyrian 
king. From the present, Isaiah's prophetic vision 


turned to the distant future. He sees the land 
overrun by the Assyrian army, turned into a field 
of thorns and thistles ; especially he foretells the 
destruction of the mountains which were then 
covered with noble vineyards, but which had 
been the scene of so much drunkenness and dissi- 
pation. But the pasture lands were to remain, 
and every man would have to content himself 
with a young bull and two sheep; but the land 
would once more flow with milk and honey, suffi- 
cient for the needs of the remnant of the nation 

Isaiah then reverted to the present time. He 
related how instructions had come to him to 
write in large letters in the vernacular, "Quick 
booty, hasty plunder " (Maher Shalal, Chash Baz). 
He was to take two — the priest Uriah and the 
prophet Zechariah, the son of Berachiah — as wit- 
nesses. Further, when his wife, the prophetess, 
had borne to him a son, he had, in prophetic in- 
spiration, bestowed on him the significant name of 
Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz. This should verify the 
foreboding, *' Before the new-born son of the 
prophet should say father and mother, the land of 
Damascus and the possessions of Samaria would be 
carried off by the king of Assyria." Isaiah then 
declaimed against the traitorous party which was 
secretly allied with the enemy. Ahaz, how- 
ever, remained deaf to all these predictions. 
He had more confidence in Tiglath-Pileser than 
in the God of Israel, and thus his doom was sealed. 
No sooner did the news reach the Assyrian king 
that various nations and princes had formed a 
treaty against him, than he invaded their lands. 
Rezin consequently had to raise the siege of Jeru- 
salem, and hurry to the defence of his country, 
Pekah also had to think of his own safety, and 
Jerusalem was momentarily safe from both of the 
hostile kings. 


The latter could no longer avert the conse- 
quences of the steps they had taken. Tiglath- 
Pileser first besieged Damascus, captured It, took 
Rezin prisoner, and slew him. From Damascus 
the victor proceeded against the kingdom of the 
Ten Tribes, conquered the fastnesses of the moun- 
tain lands and of the maritime and Jordanic dis- 
tricts. Pekah does not appear even to have 
attempted any opposition, but to have submitted 
without resistance. Tiglath-Pileser therefore per- 
mitted him to live, but he carried off the inha- 
bitants of the northern cities and those of the 
opposite coast as prisoners (738). He distributed 
them in various districts of the great Assyrian 
empire. Thus the kingdom of Israel was deprived 
of half its land and half its inhabitants. Its boun- 
dary on the north barely reached Mount Tabor, 
and this remnant became an appendage to the 
Assyrian kingdom. A yearly tribute was imposed, 
and gifts of allegiance were sent to the king. It 
is certain that great discontent was felt against 
Pekah, who had incurred these misfortunes through 
his cowardice; he was the foolish shepherd who 
had deserted his flock. This discontent ended in 
a conspiracy against him. Hoshea, the son of Elah, 
headed the plot, and killed Pekah (736), after he 
had ruled for two decades, and brought down 
misfortunes on his country. 

An Important change also occurred at this period 
in the kingdom of Judah. Ahaz submissively became 
the vassal of the king of Assyria, and had, therefore, 
to pay homage to Tiglath-Pileser. Instead of feel- 
ing humiliated, he was seized with admiration for 
the Assyrian customs, and determined to imitate 
them In his own country. He also introduced the 
worship of the sun and stars in Jerusalem. The 
picture of the sun -god was probably erected at the 
the entrance of the Temple, and horses and chariots 
were dedicated to him. Ahaz outvied the king of 


Israel in idolatry. Other Assyrian elements were 
now introduced into Judah. The Assyrian language, 
which closely resembles that of the Aramaeans, was 
spoken by the courtiers to facilitate communication 
with their sovereign lord. Ahaz went beyond all 
bounds in his love of imitation. Once, when a 
misfortune befell him, he determined to sacrifice 
his own son in honour of Moloch, for this cruel rite 
was part of the Assyrian creed. In the beautiful 
vale of Hinnom, or Ben Hinnom, at the southern 
extension of the valley of Kidron, where the 
Siloah spring and other brooklets cause the growth 
of a magnificent vegetation, a fire-altar was erected. 
There, Ahaz regardless of the heart-rending lamen- 
tations of his son, sacrificed the innocent child. 

The example of Ahaz was, as a matter of course, 
not without influence on others. The nobles of Judah, 
who had a decided preference for all that was 
foreign, because it gave full vent to their passions, 
gladly welcomed this inroad of Assyrian customs. 
Favoured by the powerlessness of King Ahaz, they 
could indulge in their sensual amusements, and 
continue their acts of injustice towards the nation. 
The priests were also infected by the bad ex- 
ample. From motives whether of selfishness or of 
fear, they were silent as to the evil deeds of the 
king and the nobles, or they even connived at them. 
They preached for hire according to the wishes of 
the mighty nobles. One of these depraved priests 
appears to have asserted that the sacrifice of the 
first-born was not displeasing to the God of Israel, 
but that such offerings were acceptable to Him. 
The Law of Moses had commanded the first-born to 
be sanctified to the Lord, and had ordered him to be 
sacrificed to God by fire. Happily, there yet re- 
mained representatives of the ancient Law, men of 
purer feelings who loudly raised their voices in 
powerful and eloquent protest against these crimes 
and this depravity. A younger prophet of this 


time laid his finger on the gaping- wound, and not 
alone called this crime by its right name, but also 
pointed out the source from whence the evil had 
arisen. The second Micah from Morasha had pro- 
bably been educated in Isaiah's school, and shared 
with him the arduous task of appealing to the hearts 
of the sinners, and of making clear to them the 
necessary results of their evil-doings. He probably 
took up his dwelling-place in Jerusalem, but know- 
ing the feelings prevalent in the country places and 
villages, he was more observant of those localities 
than were the other prophets. 

In a speech uttered in the time of King Ahaz, 
Micah laid bare the prevalent religious and moral 
evils, and he declaimed especially against human 
sacrifices. Notwithstanding all this, the evil spread 
further, and also attacked the healthy portions of the 
nation. False prophets arose, who in God's name 
spoke in favour of crimes and sins, with the object 
of flattering the men in power. These false prophets 
spoke with eloquence — they pretended to have 
had visions; they employed the prophetic mode of 
speech, and by these means brought about a terrible 
confusion of ideas. The nation became confused 
and knew not w^hat to believe — whether to credit 
those who blamed and passed judgment on the pre- 
vailing customs, or those who depicted existing 
things in the most glowing colours. This pitiable 
reign of King Ahaz exceeded in its evil results the 
six years of Athaliah's misgovernment. The king 
trampled the ancient law under his feet, and intro- 
duced idolatrous practices combined with immo- 
rality and contempt of all justice. The nobles 
could give free license to their desires, and the 
false prophets spoke in favour of their errors, and 
no regard was paid to the true prophets and advo- 
cates of right. 

But in the meantime political events took their 
course and gave rise to fresh complications. In 


the kingdom of Samaria, which since its separa- 
tion from the eastern and northern districts could 
no longer be called the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
a misguided course was still pursued. The wounds 
inflicted by the Assyrians had not crushed the pride 
and selfishness of those in power. They spoke 
scornfully, and ignored all deplorable realities. 
** Dwellings of brick have fallen in ; we will, there- 
fore, erect buildings of stone. The sycamores have 
been hewn down ; well, let us plant cedars in- 
stead." The drunkenness prevailing amongst the 
Ephraimite nobles did not allow them to perceive 
that unless they roused themselves effectually their 
former defeats would only be the prelude to their 
complete destruction. To this shortsightedness, 
perhaps in consequence of it, anarchy suc- 
ceeded. Pekah, having been slain by Hoshea, the 
ringleader of the conspirators, nine years elapsed 
in which no king could retain power. Hoshea 
appears to have refused the crown of thorns at 
the outset, and there was no one else who could 
lay claim to sovereign power. From the time that 
Pul had taken part in the contest around Lebanon, 
and Tiglath-Pileser had put an end to the Aramaean 
kingdom, war had become inevitable between the 
two great States on the Nile and the Tigris. As- 
syria and Egypt watched each other suspiciously, 
and endeavoured to prepare for the struggle. Each 
endeavoured to strengthen itself and weaken the 
enemy by raids and attacks and by the acquisition 
of new allies. The kingdom of Israel had become 
an appendage of Assyria. It had to pay a yearly 
tribute and submit to other humiliations. 

Meanwhile the doom of Samaria was in process 
of fulfilment. Was it from a knowledge of their 
disunion and weakness, or only from a thoughtless 
whim that they recognised Hoshea, the son of 
Elah, and the murderer of King Pekah, as their 
king? This last king of Samaria (727-719) was 


better than his predecessors, or, perhaps, not so 
bad as they were. He was also warlike, but he was 
unable to avert the impending destruction. He 
appears to have secretly entered into connections 
with Egypt, which continually duped him with 
false promises. At this time a warlike king of As- 
syria, Shalmaneser, proceeded against Elulai, king 
of Tyre and Phoenicia, and subdued him. The 
Tyrian kingdom was not able to offer any resist- 
ance. On this occasion Shalmaneser advanced 
against Samaria in order to surprise it. Hoshea 
did not await his coming, but went and met the 
great king, submitted to him, and promised him 
gifts of allegiance. But hardly had the Assyrian 
king withdrawn than conspiracies were organised 
against him. Hoshea commenced the secession by 
withdrawing the yearly tribute, and Phoenicia fol- 
lowed suit. 

Shalmaneser thereupon collected his troops, and 
crossing the Euphrates and Lebanon, proceeded 
first against the Phoenicians. At his approach, the 
hope of the nations that they would obtain their 
freedom appears to have deserted them. The 
Phoenician towns of Zidon, Acre, and even the 
capital of ancient Tyre, yielded probably without a 
struggle. From Acre, Shalmaneser advanced to the 
Samaritan kingdom by way of the plain of Jezreel. 
The Israelite towns submitted to the mighty king, 
or the inhabitants fled to the capital. Hoshea's 
courage did not fail, but he continued his oppo- 
sition, though, as it appears, the expected or 
promised help from Egypt was withheld. The 
capital, Samaria — which lay in a mountain gorge 
— could hold out, if fortified. Meanwhile, Hoshea 
and the inhabitants of Samaria hoped for some 
unlooked-for event, which should compel Shal- 
maneser to retreat. The walls, towers, and roofs 
of Samaria were therefore fortified, and rendered 
capable of defence ; provisions and water supplies 


were also collected, and all the preparations were 
made which are needful in a besieged city. The 
Assyrians, meanwhile, had brought the art of at- 
tacking and capturing fortified cities to perfec- 
tion. An attack and defence must have required 
great energy and endurance ; the siege of Samaria 
lasted nearly three years (from the summer of 721 
till the summer of 719). All exertions, all the cou- 
rage and patience of the besieged proved fruitless. 
The capital of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, 
after an existence of two hundred years, was taken 
by storm. The last king of that State, Hoshea, 
though he was probably taken prisoner, was merci- 
fully treated by his conqueror. He was deprived 
of his dignities, and was imprisoned for life. No 
pen has pourtrayed how many thousands perished 
in this last contest of the kingdom of Israel, or 
how many were carried off into banishment. The 
kingdom was so estranged from those who re- 
corded the memorials of the nation, that they 
devoted but few words to its decline. No lament 
resounded, as though the sad fate of the nation 
was a matter of indifference to the poets. The 
prediction of the prophets had been fulfilled. 
Ephraim was no more ; the idols of Dan, Samaria, 
and other cities, wandered away to Nineveh, and 
prisoners in thousands were carried off and dis- 
persed. They were sent to colonize the thinly- 
populated territories — the position of which is not 
precisely known — in Halah and Habor on the river 
Gozan, and in the towns of mountainous Media. 
The kingdom of the Ten Tribes, or Israel, existed 
for two centuries and a half, twenty kings ruled 
over it ; but in one day it disappeared, leaving no 
trace behind. Alienated, in the first place, through 
the obstinacy of Ephraim, which refused to hearken 
to the emancipating and strengthening moral Law, 
it had fallen into a state of idolatry and its attendant 
vices. The country cast forth the Ten Tribes, as it 

VOL. I. T 


had cast forth the Canaanite tribes. Where did 
they remain ? Cheats and dreamers have claimed 
to be descended from them. A few of them, such 
as agriculturists, vine-dressers, and shepherds, no 
doubt remained in the country, and others from 
noble families, especially those from the borders of 
Judah, no doubt took refuge in that country. 

Thus the diseased part, which had infected and 
maimed the entire body of the nation, was cut off 
and rendered harmless. The tribe of Ephraim, 
which, on its first entry into the country, had 
caused by its pride and selfishness the disinte- 
gration, the weakening, and later on, the destruc- 
tion of a kingdom almost risen to the position 
of a sovereign power, was now lamenting in 
exile. "Thou hast chastised me, and I was 
chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the 
yoke. I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, 
because I did bear the reproach of my youth." 
(Jeremiah xxxi. 17.) The body of the nation 
seemed to have been more at ease and healthier 
after the removal of its unruly member. The 
tribes of Judah and Benjamin with their de- 
pendencies of Simeon and Levi, which, since the 
destruction of the Ten Tribes, had comprised the 
people of Israel, or the *' remnant" of Israel, now 
rose to new power and developed fresh splendour. 
The destruction of Samaria had struck a severe 
blow, but for the moment it served to rouse the 
people to put aside the follies and sins which had 
led to depravity and weakness. The people and 
nobles were, at least for a time, no longer deaf to 
the exhortations of the prophets; Isaiah's pre- 
diction to erring Samaria — that Ephraim's crown of 
glory would surely fade (Isaiah xxviii. 4) had been 
realised, and he was therefore the more readily 
listened to. What was wanting for Jerusalem 
to share the fate of Samaria ? It lay at the 
mercy of the Assyrian conqueror. In Jerusalem 


the people were filled with fear, humility, and a 
desire to listen to the words of those who would 
lead them in the right path. 

Fortunately a king now occupied the throne 
the like of whom had not been known since 
the time of David. Hezekiah (724-696) the son 
of Ahaz was the very opposite of his father. His 
gentle, poetical soul was filled with the ideal, 
which he beheld in the peculiar Law, in the ordi- 
nances and precepts of the earliest ages. With the 
same eagerness with which his father had paid 
homage to the stranger, Hezekiah was intent on 
re-establishing the ancient Judaean customs, and on 
purifying religious beliefs and institutions. He 
accepted the Law as the guiding principle by which 
to rule his life and that of his nation. He was 
not only endowed with the qualities of justice, 
generosity, and greatness of mind, but also with 
those virtues which as a rule are not found in a 
crowned head, namely, gentleness, modesty, and 
humility. He possessed a deep feeling of piety 
and pure veneration of God, qualities of as rare 
occurrence as those of perfection in art or of genius 
in generalship. 

The prophets may have recognised the nobleness 
of mind and soul which possessed the youthful 
king, or their prophetic vision may have revealed 
to them the qualities which adorned him. Possibly 
the prophets may have directly influenced him by 
educating him in their ways. 

During Ahaz's misrule, the prophets and the 
circle of milder men who composed the kernel and 
heart of the nation of Israel, turned their atten- 
tion to the young prince, from whom they ex- 
pected the restoration of the golden age enjoyed 
during the glorious days of David. Hezekiah had 
witnessed the sins of his father with pain, and 
bore testimony to the aversion he felt for them 
immediately after his father's death. He did not 

T 2 


have his father*s corpse interred in the hereditary 
sepulchre of the house of David, but in a specially 
prepared grave. Hezekiah expressed his convic- 
tions in a psalm which he composed on his acces- 
sion to the throne, and which is in the form of 
a manifesto. (Ps. ci.) 

Hezekiah' s reign was rich in events of great 
import and in poetical creations. The golden age 
would have indeed recurred, had it not been that 
his wishes were opposed by a barrier, which he 
found it impossible to break down. Royalty had 
long ceased to have sole power in Judah. The over- 
seer of the palace or superintendent (Sochen) had 
full power over the army and the officers of the 
court. He kept the king a prisoner in his own 
apartments. In Hezekiah's time, the superintendent 
Shebna behaved as though he were the possessor 
of the throne and of sovereign power. At first the 
courtiers and those who were in office as judges 
or otherwise gave the young king free scope, not 
knowing his character or force of will. During 
this time Hezekiah could carry his good resolves 
into effect, and in part introduce innovations. He 
removed the idols, and introduced the belief in a 
Unity by dismissing the more unworthy of the 
courtiers from the palace, and filling their places 
with more deserving men. 

It was no slight task to counteract the accumu- 
lated sin and immorality of ages. The Temple was 
deserted, and the country was filled with idols and 
altars. Hezekiah re-opened the sanctuary, and 
reinstated it in its honours. In order to root out 
the evils of idolatry for good, he ordained that 
altars should be no longer erected on the moun- 
tains and heights, not even for the worship of 
God, but that all who felt a desire to show honour 
to the Deity should repair to Jerusalem. This pre- 
caution appeared to many to be directed against 
freedom of divine worship, and against liberty of 


conscience. But Hezekiah felt that he dared not 
spare their liberty if he wished to ensure the 
purification of the people from its enervating- 
customs. When the spring- festival approached, 
he commanded that the paschal lamb, which had 
hitherto been sacrificed on private altars, should 
only be offered in the sanctuary at Jerusalem. He 
however deferred the celebration of the feast from 
the usual month to the one following. Meanwhile, 
however, the courtiers did not consent to leave the 
king independent in his government. The in- 
spector of the palace — Shebna — appears to have 
gradually wrested all power from him. Hezekiah 
was a poet, an ideal nature, weak and yielding, 
and possessed of but little firmness of will. Men 
with such a disposition can easily be led, and even 
kings may submit to those of more powerful will. 
Shalmaneser's invasion of Tyre and Samaria, which 
occurred in the first year of Hezekiah' s reign, 
naturally aroused great alarm and fear at Jerusalem 
and at the Court. It w^as necessary to take a firm 
decision — either to join the allies or to give hostages 
as a sign of fealty to the Assyrian monarch. Heze- 
kiah, from his peculiar character and mode of 
thought, was wavering as to the course he should 
take. Was it honourable to desert his fellow- 
tribesmen, who had been bleeding to death under 
the three years' invasion of Samaria, and who, 
if conquered, could only have a most dismal fate ? 
Should he aid or desert them ? On the other 
hand, was it prudent to expose himself to the 
anger of the great monarch ? Hezekiah was doubt- 
less glad that Shebna and his ministers relieved 
him from the trouble of deciding. 

In consequence of this breach amongst the 
highest authorities of the country, Hezekiah' s 
government appears full of contradiction. There 
were at once elevated and low feelings — moral im- 
provement and degradation, pure belief in God and 


court paid to foreign aid ; the king an ideal of jus- 
tice and his capital full of murderers. Hezekiah 
was not even successful in effecting the banishment 
of idolatry. The nobles kept their silver and golden 
idols, and worshipped the handiwork of man ; they re- 
tained the statues of Astarte under the thickly-laden 
terebinth trees, which had been planted for the pur- 
pose. This internal disunion occasioned by the power- 
lessness of the king and the obstinacy of the palace 
inspector and the nobles, exercised a bad influence 
on the foreign relations of the Government. The 
Judsean statesmen now suddenly, after the fall of 
Samaria, followed a course of politics which would 
have been more wise and more honourable if it 
had been resolved - upon earlier. They adopted 
the plan of breaking with Assyria and uniting 
themselves with Egypt. They took similar mea- 
sures to those which had been pursued a year 
before with regard to Egypt. They now courted 
the aid of Egypt in order to obtain, if not an 
army, yet a sufficient number of horses to resist 
Assyria. The plan of rebelling against the sove- 
reign power of Assyria was naturally conducted in 
secret, for the premature report of their intentions 
might have led to great misfortunes. But, however 
secret their undertakings might be, the Judeean 
statesmen could not keep them concealed from 
public notice. They could not escape Isaiah's pro- 
phetic vision, and he exerted all his eloquence in 
order, if possible, to prevent their rash proceedings. 
His most glorious, most thrilling speeches were 
made at this time of public anxiety. All the 
weapons of prophetic oratory — description of the 
threatening evils, scorn of their blindness, and 
exhortations and cheering prospects for the future 
— all these he employed in order to win his obsti- 
nate countrymen from their undertakings. The 
most beautiful expressions and most striking meta- 
phors, the most touching thoughts, dropped from 


his lips in powerful eloquence. Isaiah's advice was 
that Judah should hold itself neutral in the hot con- 
test which was about to break forth between Assyria 
and Egypt. 

Meanwhile matters took their course regardless 
of Isaiah's exhortations and advice. King Heze- 
kiah, for all steps were taken in his name, gave up 
his allegiance to the Assyrians; at least, he no 
longer sent tributary offerings to Nineveh, and the 
only result which could be expected followed. King 
Sennacherib collected a large army in order to give 
a crushing blow not only to Judah but also to 
Egypt. By subduing the intermediate lands of 
Aram, Phoenicia, Samaria, and Philistia, the way to 
Egypt was rendered accessible, whilst all fear of 
attacks on its part was rendered groundless. 
Judah was prepared for defence. The generals 
felt themselves too weak for an open warfare, and 
they therefore determined to occupy the mountain 
fastnesses, and hoped to delay the Assyrian troops 
until the arrival of their Egyptian allies. Jerusalem 
was fortified with especial care. The weak parts 
of the wall were repaired, the walls themselves 
raised, and those houses which had been extended 
as far as the walls, in consequence of the increased 
size of the town, were pulled down. A new wall 
was erected round the old fortifications of the town 
of David (Zion), and the lower town (Millo), and on 
this wall towers were built. The northern lake, 
which was traversed by the spring of Gihon and 
filled with water, was closed up, and the water was 
conducted into the town by means of a subterra- 
nean canal. The aqueduct was also pulled down 
in order to cut off the water supply of the enemy, 
and thus to avoid a protracted siege. The ar- 
moury, the house of the forest of Lebanon, was 
provided with instruments of warfare. 

Shebna, the inspector and provider of the palace, 
appears to have been the moving spirit in all these 


arrangements. Both he and the princes of Judah, 
with their adherents, were of good courage, and 
without fear on the advance of the Assyrians. In 
fact, the most joyful feelings obtained in Jerusalem ; 
the evenings were spent in rejoicing ; the people 
ate and drank and made merry. As though unable 
quietly to await the arrival of the enemy, they 
climbed on to the roofs of the houses in order to 
espy them. Isaiah is said to have deprecated such 
folly and daring. In an exhortation, every word of 
which was of crushing force, he pourtrayed to the 
nation, or rather to the nobles, their thoughtless 
confidence. (Isaiah xxii. 1-13.) 

This speech of Isaiah's, directed as it was 
against the most powerful man in Jerusalem, must 
have created a great sensation. It roused King 
Hezekiah from his retirement, for soon after this 
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, was raised to the post 
which Shebna had so long occupied. This new 
mayor of the palace acted according to the precept 
of Isaiah, and Hezekiah, through his means, ap- 
pears to have been drawn into a show of interest in 
public affairs. Shebna's fall was a change for the 
better. What had been done could not however 
be undone. The Assyrian monarch Sennacherib, 
filled with anger at Hezekiah's rebellion, was al- 
ready on his way to Judah in order to destroy it. 
A part of his army having crossed the Jordan, 
proceeded towards the centre of the country. All 
fortified towns that lay on the way were taken by 
storm and destroyed, and the inhabitants fled 
weeping to the capital. The roads were laid 
desolate, no traveller could cross the country, for 
the enemy respected no man. The bravest lost 
courage whilst the enemy came ever nearer to the 
capital ; their daring was changed to despair. 
There was no thought of opposition ; but where 
all despaired the prophet Isaiah remained stead- 
fast in his courage. On an open place in 


Jerusalem he held forth in one of his inspired and 
metrical exhortations such as have never flowed 
from other lips than his. Isaiah unfolded to Israel 
a glowing future consequent on their deliverance 
from Assyria. The scattered of all lands should 
be led home, the exiles of the Ten Tribes should be 
re-united to Judah. Jealousy and enmity should 
not appear again ; miracles which occurred at the 
time of the Exodus from Egypt would be repeated, 
the nation should once more raise its voice in 
inspired hymns. What marvellous spiritual power 
thus to have held fast to a belief in the ultimate 
victory of justice and everlasting peace, amidst the 
terror, devastation, and despair, and the deathlike 
gloom of the present ! 

Sennacherib had led. his troops (then proceeding 
to the attack on Egypt) towards the Philistine slope 
on the south without pausing before Jerusalem, and 
he made Lachish his headquarters. This place 
was one of the most important of the provincial 
cities of Judah, and for what purpose should he 
besiege the town of Jerusalem, fortified as it was 
by nature and human art ? He thought that 
when he had completely subdued the land of 
Judah the capital would yield of its own accord. 
Then Jerusalem would suffer a similar fate to 
Samaria, and the few remaining tribes would be 
carried off into captivity and scattered abroad, and 
be lost amongst the various nationalities. Even 
with this hopeless prospect before him, Isaiah held 
firm to the prediction that Judah would not be 
destroyed. He contended that it must needs suffer 
under the dominion of Sennacherib, but that these 
very sufferings would tend to the improvement of a 
part if not of the entire nation. 

Isaiah was not the only prophet who at this day 
of oppression and imminent destruction, not only 
held aloft the banner of hope, but predicted a 
glorious future for Israel, in which other nations 


should likewise take part. Micah spoke in a 
similar strain to Isaiah, though his speeches were 
not so artistic or striking. But amidst the din 
of battle he spoke yet more decidedly of the 
everlasting peace which was to obtain amongst 
the nations, and he thus endeavoured to raise the 
fallen hopes of Jerusalem. 

The actual present, however, formed a striking 
contrast to Isaiah's and Micah' s high-flown predic- 
tions of a most brilliant and noble future. . King 
Hezekiah, who trembled at the precarious state of 
Jerusalem consequent on the subjection and de- 
struction of the country, now sent messengers to 
Sennacherib in Lachish, expressing contrition at his 
rebellion and giving assurances of his submission. 
The Assyrian king demanded in the first place the 
immense sum of 300 khikars (talents) of silver, and 
30 khikars of gold. Hezekiah succeeded in collect- 
ing this sum, but he did it with a heavy heart, for 
he found himself obliged to remove the golden orna- 
ments which adorned the temple. When Senna- 
cherib received this sum he demanded more, and 
unqualified submission — mercy or no mercy. In 
order to add weight to his demand, he sent a divi- 
sion of his army towards Jerusalem. This detach- 
ment was posted on the north-east of the city on 
the way to the northern lake. Here preparations 
were made for the siege, and the Assyrians sum- 
moned King Hezekiah to an interview. Rab-shakeh, 
one of the Assyrian officials, represented Senna- 
cherib, and spoke with as much disdain as if the 
conquest of Jerusalem were as easy as to rob a 
bird's nest. The Judaean warriors stationed on the 
outer wall listened with intense interest to the result 
of the interview. In order to quench their courage 
Rab-shakeh uttered his bold and daring speech 
in the Hebrew or Juda?an tongue, in order that the 
listeners might understand him. When Hezekiah's 
ofTficers requested Rab-shakeh to address them 


rather in the Aramaean language, he replied that he 
desired to speak in their own language, so that the 
warriors on the outer wall might understand him, 
and might not share Hezekiah's error. In order 
to win them to his side, Rab-shakeh called aloud to 
them that they should not be persuaded by Heze- 
kiah into the belief that God would save them. 
Were the gods of those countries subdued by the 
Assyrians able to save their people ? The God of 
Israel had not been able even to rescue Samaria 
from the king of Assyria. Rab-shakeh openly de- 
manded of the Judsean warriors that they should 
desert their king and acknowledge Sennacherib, 
and he would then lead them into a land as fruitful 
as that of Judah. The nation and the warriors were 
silent on hearing those words. But when they be- 
came known in Jerusalem they spread fear and con- 
sternation amongst all classes of the inhabitants. 
Hezekiah, therefore, appointed a fast and a proces- 
sion to the Temple, to which building he repaired, 
having clothed himself in mourning garments. 
Isaiah made use of this opportunity in order to ap- 
peal to the blinded princes of Judah, whose danger 
could not wean them from sin, and to impress on 
them that mere outward piety, typified as it was by 
sacrifices and fasts, were of no avail. The address 
he gave must have had a crushing effect. (Isaiah 
ch. i.) Safety and rescue could only be brought 
about by a thorough moral regeneration and purer 
thoughts, but how could this be effected in all 
haste ? Rab-shakeh insisted on a decision — and the 
courage of the troops and the nation had become 
damped. Who could say but that in order to save 
their lives they might open the gates and admit the 
enemy. All eyes were, therefore, turned on the 
prophet Isaiah. The king sent the highest digni- 
taries and the elders of the priests to him, that he 
might speak words of comfort to the unworthy 
nation — to the remnant of the people which was 


crowded together into Jerusalem. He spoke in few 
but eloquent words. He exhorted the king to throw 
off his terror of the scornful victor, and predicted 
that Sennacherib, scared by some report, would 
raise the siege and return to his own country. This 
announcement appears to have pacified not alone 
the king, but also the terror-stricken nation. Heze- 
kiah then sent to Rab-shakeh a reply for which 
the latter must have been unprepared. When 
Rab-shakeh imparted the decision which Heze- 
kiah had formed, Sennacherib was, doubtless, very 
indignant that the prince of a small domain, to 
whom only the capital remained, should venture to 
resist him. He immediately sent a messenger with 
a letter to Hezekiah, in which he gave utterance to 
his contempt for the little state and for the God 
in whom Hezekiah trusted. He enumerated therein 
the fortresses which had been subdued by the As- 
syrians : '* Have their gods been able to save them, 
and dost thou hope that confidence in thy God will 
save thee?'' 

The reply to this blasphemous epistle was dic- 
tated by Isaiah. He said that Sennacherib should 
return to his country in abject defeat, for God was 
not willing to give up the city. Before Rab-shakeh 
could bring the answer to Sennacherib a change 
had already taken place. Tirhakah, the Ethiopian 
king of Egypt, who desired to prevent the advance 
of the Assyrians, went to meet them with a large 
army. Hearing of the advance of the Egyptian 
and Ethiopian troops, Sennacherib left his encamp- 
ment in Lachish, collected his scattered forces, 
and proceeded southward as far as the Egyptian 
frontier town, Pelusium, which he besieged. 

Hezekiah' s despair at Sennacherib's blasphemous 
letter was calmed by Isaiah's prediction, that though 
the land would indeed suffer want in the coming 
year, yet it would then once more regain its fer- 
tility; that the remnant of Judah would strengthen 


its roots below, and Its fruit should increase above, 
and this revival should proceed from Jerusalem ; but 
Sennacherib should not be permitted to direct even 
an arrow against Jerusalem. Whilst the king- and 
the nobles who believed in Isaiah's prophecy, 
gave themselves up to hope, and thought to behold 
the realization of these hopes in the departure of 
of the besieging troops from before Jerusalem, an 
event occurred w^hich roused fresh terror in Jeru- 
salem. Hezekiah sickened with a virulent tumour, 
and was in such imminent danger that Isaiah even 
advised him to put his house in order and arrange 
for the succession, as he would not recover from his 
sickness. The death of the king, without heirs, 
in this stormy time, would have been a signal for 
disunion among the princes of Judah, and would 
have occasioned a civil war in the besieged citadel. 
The nation was strongly attached to its gentle and 
noble king. He was the very breath of its life ; and 
the prospect of losing him made him doubly dear 
to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Hezekiah, lying 
on his sick bed, at this sorrowful prediction turned 
his face to the wall and tearfully prayed to God. 
Then Isaiah announced to him that his prayers had 
been heard, that God would send him health, and 
that on the third day he should repair to the Temple. 
By the application of soft figs the swelling disap- 
peared, and he became well again. When Heze- 
kiah had recovered, the king composed a heartfelt 
psalm of praise, to be sung in the Temple. (Isaiah 
xxxviii. 7 seq.) 

The recovery of the king caused great joy in 
Jerusalem ; but it was not unmixed, as anxious 
cares were aroused by the threatening attitude of 
Sennacherib. Doubt and anxiety were felt in the 
capital so long as Sennacherib's contest with Egypt 
remained unended. If he were victorious, the 
thrones of Judah and David would be lost. How 
long this war and the siege of Pelusium lasted 


is not certain. Suddenly the joyful news reached 
Jerusalem that the Assyrians and Sennacherib had 
returned in hot haste to their own country (711). 
What had happened to their numerous host ? No- 
thing definite was known, and the scene of action 
lay far away. In Jerusalem it was related that by 
a devouring- pestilence the Angel of Death had 
destroyed the entire Assyrian host, 185,000 men. In 
Egypt, the priests related that a numberless swarm 
of fieldmice had gnawed to pieces the quivers, 
bows, and trappings of the army till they were 
useless, and that the soldiers, deprived of their 
weapons, were obliged to take to flight. What- 
ever may have caused the destruction of the 
mighty host of Sennacherib,^ his contemporaries 
appear to have considered it as a miracle, and as 
a punishment sent to the Assyrian king for his 
pride and blasphemy. In Jerusalem the joy follow- 
ing on their anxiety was increased by the fact that 
the prophet had repeatedly predicted, from the 
very commencement of the attack, that the As- 
syrians should not cast one arrow against Jeru- 
salem, and that Sennacherib should return on the 
w^ay by which he had come, and that he should 
retreat without having effected his intentions. 

They gave vent to their deep feelings of grati- 
tude at their deliverance in the beautiful hymns — 
beautiful in form and thought — ^which were com- 
posed by the Korahite Levites, and sung in the 
Temple, (Psalms xlvi. and Ixxvi.) 

Thus Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrians. 
Isaiah's prediction that ** Assur's yoke should fall 
from the neck of Judah" had been literally ful- 
filled. The inhabitants of the country, who had 
been partly shut up in the capital, and had partly 
fled for refuge to the neighbouring hollows and 
caves, now returned to their homes, and tilled the 
land in safety. All fear of the dreaded glance of 
the Assyrian king having passed away, the Juda^ans, 

cH. XIV. hezekiah's last years. 287 

whose territory was but small, could now seek out 
other dwelling places where they could settle down 
and increase in numbers. Hezekiah's thoughts were 
not directed towards war; he was the personifi- 
cation of a pacific prince. It appears that the 
neighbouring people called on him to decide ques- 
tions of justice, and that fugitives and perse- 
cuted men sought protection with him. Although 
Judah could not be said to boast of victories under 
Hezekiah, it yet attained to an important position 
amongst the nations. 

After the defeat of Sennacherib, a king from 
distant parts endeavoured to form an alliance with 
Judah. The king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan 
(Mardo-kempad), son of Baladan (721 — 710), sent 
an embassy with letters and presents to Hezekiah, 
ostensibly under the pretext of congratulating him 
on his recovery, but doubtless in order to form 
an alliance with him against their common foe. 
Hezekiah being naturally gratified at this sign of 
respect from a distant land, received the Baby- 
lonian embassy with the customary honours, and 
showed them his treasures. His pleasure and 
parade was not pleasing to Isaiah, who prophesied 
injury to Judah from the land with which it was 
forming a treaty. The king, however, received 
the reproof of the prophet with humility. 

The fifteen years of Hezekiah' s reign after the 
downfall of the Assyrian kingdom, was a golden 
age for the inner development of the remnant of 
Israel. They could dwell without disturbance 
under their vines and fig-trees. As in the days 
of David and Solomon, strangers immigrated into 
the happy region of Judah, where they were kindly 
received, and where they united themselves to the 
people of Israel. The poor and sorrow-stricken, 
the mourner and outcast, were the objects of the 
king's special care. He could now put into execu- 
tion his heartfelt desire to have the faithful of his 


land, devout and honourable men, to live in his 
palace. The disciples of Isaiah, imbued as they 
were with their master's spirit, were the friends 
and advisers of Hezekiah, and were called **Heze- 
kiah's people." 

The second part of Hezekiah' s reign was alto- 
gether a time of happy inspiration for the poet. 
The fairest blossoms of psalmody flourished at 
this period. Besides the songs of thanksgiving and 
holy hymns which flowed from the souls of the Le- 
vites, probably for use in the Temple, secular songs 
were dedicated in love and praise to King Hezekiah. 
On the occasion of his marriage with a beautiful 
maiden, whose charms had touched the king's 
heart, one of the Korahites composed a song 
of love. The two kinds of poetry, the primeval 
property of the Hebrew people, Which the litera- 
ture of no other nation has paralleled, the poetical 
and metrical expression of prophetic eloquence 
and the psalm, reached their culmination under 
Hezekiah. The third kir}d of Hebrew poetry, the 
Proverbs, was not only collected, but also amplified 
by the poets of Hezekiah' s time. 

Hezekiah ruled in quiet and peace until the end 
of his days. The defeat of Sennacherib had been 
so complete that it prevented his undertaking 
other expeditions against Judah. Great joy was 
felt when Sennacherib, who had cast such proud 
and blasphemous utterances at Israel's God and 
nation, was murdered by his own sons, Adram- 
melech and (Nergal-) Sharezer, in the temple of 
one of the Assyrian gods. Nothing is known 
of the last days of Hezekiah (696). He was the 
last king whose remains were interred in the royal 
mausoleum. The people, who were strongly at- 
tached to him, gave him a magnificent burial. It 
appears that he left an only son named Manasseh, 
whom his wife, Hephzi-bah, had borne to him after 
the close of the Assyrian war. 



Manasseh — Fanatical Hatred of Hezekiah's Policy. — Assyrian Wor- 
ship Introduced — The Anavim — Persecution of the Prophets — 
Assarhaddon — The Colonisation of Samaria — Amon — Josiah — 
Huldah and Zephaniah — Affairs in Assyria — Regeneration of 
Judah under Josiah — Repairing of the Temple — Jeremiah — The 
Book of Deuteronomy — Josiah's Passover — Battle at Megiddo. 

695—608 B.C. 

It was not destined that the Judsean nation should 
enjoy uninterrupted happiness for even a few 
g-enerations. Its strength was tried by rapid 
changes from prosperity to misfortune. Close 
upon the power and unity of the second half 
of Hezekiah's reign came weakness and disinte- 
gration ; quiet and peace were followed by wild 
disturbances, and the spring-time of culture by 
a destructive drought. It is true that no 
disasters of a political nature disturbed the 
country under the rule of Hezekiah's successor; 
perils threatened the land from abroad, but soon 
passed over. But at home unfortunate circum- 
stances arose which brought about a schism, and 
thus led to lasting weakness. What can be worse 
for the commonweal than that the members of it 
are filled with jealousy and malice towards each 
other, and that the people of the country are 
imbued with a hatred of their capital. Such 
feelings arose under the government of Heze- 
kiah's son, and became a curse to the land for 
more than half a century (695 — 641). Manasseh's 
youth was in part the cause of this disaffection. 

Under the sway of a boy of twelve, whose 
government lies in the hands of his servants, greed 
for gain and even worse passions are apt to rule, 
unless those in power are men of great moral 

VOL. I. u 


worth, whose patriotism surpasses their self-love. 
The princes of the house of Judah had not, how- 
ever, attained to this moral height. They were, 
in fact, filled with anger at the neglect which they 
had suffered during Hezekiah's reign, and only 
anxious to regain their former position, by remov- 
ing the intruders and satisfying their vengeance. 
Courtiers and officers now came into power who 
seemed to find their chief occupation in reversing 
the order of things which had been established 
under Hezekiah. One does not know whether to 
call the latter a renewal of the old customs, or the 
establishment of a new system based on the ancient 
Israelite law, on the principle of the unity of God, 
of His immateriality, of a hatred of all idolatrous 
worship, and of a simplicity of religious culture. 

It was the aim of the fanatics who stood at the 
head of the government to overturn this system. 
An idolatrous faction was formed, which was not so 
much influenced by force of habit, love of imitation, 
or religious feeling however misdirected, as by 
passionate hatred of all that appertained to the 
ancient Israelite customs, and love for all that 
was foreign to it. At the head of this party were 
the princes, under whose influence and care the 
young king was placed. Not long after Manasseh's 
accession to the throne the nobles, who acted in 
the king's name, proceeded with the innovations 
which they had planned. Their first step was to 
proclaim lawful the use of high altars, which Heze- 
kiah had so strongly reprobated. They then intro- 
duced the wild orgies of idolatry into Jerusalem 
and the Temple. Not alone the ancient Canaan- 
itish but also the Assyrian and Babylonian modes 
of worship became customary at the Temple, as 
if in scorn of the God of Israel. In the courts 
of the Temple altars were erected to Baal and 
Astarte, and smaller altars on the roofs of houses 
in honour of the five wandering stars. In the court 


of the Temple a large Image (Ssemel), probably of 
the Assyrian goddess Mylitta, was erected in order 
to give offence to the God of Israel. 

The moral results of this mingling of vicious 
idolatry were yet worse than the outward signs of 
it. The profligate temple-servants and priestesses 
(Kedeshoth) were again established in tents, where 
they led a wild and dissolute life. The furnace was 
once more opened in the beautiful vale of Ben- 
Hinnom, and there in moments of danger tender 
children were cast into the fire. Everything was 
done to cause the memory of the God of Israel to 
fall into oblivion. The faction of idolaters per- 
suaded themselves and others that God had 
become powerless, and that He could neither 
bring them good nor bad fortune. The desire of 
imitation was also partly the cause of this reli- 
gious and moral perversion. Force of habit and 
compulsion, exercised on the disaffected, soon 
spread the evil, which proceeded from the court 
and the prince till it extended over the whole land. 
The priests of the family of Aaron were pro- 
bably at first unwilling to participate in this seces- 
sion from the God of Israel. Idolatrous priests 
(Khemarim) were therefore brought into the country, 
who, as in the days of Jezebel and Athaliah, were 
permitted to take part in the service of the Temple. 
Nor were false prophets wanting to lend their 
voices to these abominations. What cause has 
been so bad that, if it has enjoyed the favour ot 
the great, has not found eloquent tongues to shield, 
justify, or even recommend it as the only true and 
good cause ? This state of things would have led 
to the utter oblivion of all the past, and to the de- 
struction of the nation which was to bring blessings 
to the entire human race. 

Happily there existed in Jerusalem a strong party 
who respected the law so despised and scoffed at by 
the court faction. These formed a striking contrast 

u 2 


to the representatives of idolatry, and were deter- 
mined to seal their convictions with their blood. 
This ** school of God," whom Isaiah had taught 
and educated as his own children, were the long- 
suffering Anavim, whose numbers and position 
were of but slight importance, but whose determina- 
tion rendered them a strong power. They may be 
called the Anavites or prophetic party; they called 
themselves ** the community of the upright " {Sod 
Jescharim w'Edah). This community was subjected 
to many hg,rd trials through the change under Ma- 
nasseh. The least of their troubles was that those 
men whom Hezekiah had placed as judges and 
officers of state were turned out of their positions 
by the court party, and that Aaronites, of the family 
of Zadok the high-priest who refused to take part 
in the idolatrous worship, were dismissed from the 
Temple, and their incomes, derived from sacrifices 
and gifts, taken from them ; but harder trials were 
before them. How could they be silent in this re- 
versal of all order? They were not silent, but 
raised their voices loudly against such sins. Doubt- 
less other members of the prophetic school also 
expressed their horror at the daring of the court 
party, for Manasseh and the princes of Judah did 
not stop short of any crime, but like the abhorred 
Jezebel drowned the voices of the prophets in blood. 
The prophetic utterances of this period have not 
been preserved ; the zealous men of God had no 
time to put their sayings to paper. A violent death 
overtook them before they could seize the pencil, 
or they were obliged to hide their thoughts in vague 
phrases. As though the sad times were doomed to 
be forgotten, the historians have noted down but 
little of public interest. A deeply touching event 
occurred during Manasseh' s reign, and the books 
of history have given but slight or no account of it. 
One of the sons of Sennacherib, whose parricidal 
act destroyed the proud conqueror in the temple, 


had placed himself on the tottering throne of Nine- 
veh. He also died a violent death at the hand of 
his brother Assarhaddon. Assarhaddon (680 — 
668) utilised the confusion and civil war in order 
to subject his mother's country, Assyria, to his 
rule. Thus strengthened, Assarhaddon commenced 
a war with Egypt, the conquest of which his father 
had been obliged to relinquish. Some of his 
generals appear to have landed on the Judaean 
coast in order to effect Manasseh's subjection by 
means of threats. Manasseh went to him to secure 
a fair peace, but, as is related, he was made a cap- 
tive, and led in chains to Babylon. It was a bad 
omen for the house of David, which had become 
faithless to its origin, and had shown a blind love 
of the stranger. 

Sennacherib's son is supposed to have sent the 
prisoners of the countries he had subdued out of 
Babylon, Cuthah, Sepharvaim, and other towns, in 
order to colonise Samaria. This event, which, at 
the time, was of no consequence to Judaea, was des- 
tined to be important in the future. These exiles, 
who were called Cuthseans from their origin and 
Samaritans from their dwelling-places, gradually 
adopted Israelite customs from the small remnant 
of Israelites who remained after the destruction of 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. The Cuthseans 
made pilgrimages to the holy places of Bethel, 
where Israelite priests performed the service. The 
Cuthseans, however, continued to worship idols, and 
some of them sacrificed human beings. Manasseh 
himself was delivered from captivity and sent back 
to his country by Assarhaddon or his successor. 

Things were not improved on his return. Idola- 
trous worship and the unfortunate conditions 
brought about by immorality and cruel persecution 
lasted until his death. When he died (641) he was 
not, like his predecessor, buried in the city of 
David, but in the garden of the royal palace of Uzza. 


He had himself selected this spot for his tomb, and 
had thereby tacitly acknowledged himself unworthy 
to rest in the grave of his forefather David. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son Amon (640- 
639), who, although at his accession, older than his 
father had been, yet appears to have had no more 
aptitude for reigning than his predecessor. The 
idolatrous errors, which had brought with them con- 
sequences so injurious to morality in his father's 
reign, continued under his rule, but they do not 
appear as with his father to have been inveighed 
against by the prophets. However, he reigned for 
so short a time that but little is known of him, 
his deeds and sentiments. His servants — that is 
to say, the mayor of the palace and the chief cour- 
tiers around him — conspired against him, and killed 
him in his own palace (639). The nation appears to 
have loved Amon, for the people rose in rebellion 
against the conspirators, killed them, and placed 
Amon's young son Josiah, who was eight years 
of age, on the throne (638-608). This change of 
rule was not immediately felt. The nobles and 
princes of Judah continued to govern in the name 
of the king during his minority, and maintained the 
errors of Manasseh, which they sought to establish 

But the number of patient sufferers, who clung to 
the precepts of the God of Israel, increased daily, 
and these formed themselves into an active body. 
From this circle various prophets arose under 
Josiah. They lent their words of fire to the pro- 
mulgation of the pure doctrines of God, and 
opened their lips in the cause of right, and endea- 
voured to bring about a better state of things. A 
prophetess named Huldah also arose at this time, 
and her utterances, like those of Deborah, were 
much sought after. Zephani^h was the eldest of 
the later prophets. He was descended from a re- 
spected family in Jerusalem, whose forefathers were 


known as far back as the fourth generation. He 
openly declaimed against the weakness of his con- 
temporaries, their moral degradation, and their 
idolatrous errors, particularly those of the nobles 
and princes, who took pride in the imitation of all 
foreign customs. Like the older prophets Amos 
and Joel, he predicted the advent of *' a terrible 
day of the Lord,'' a day of shade and darkness, 
black as night, and he especially predicted the total 
destruction of the proud city of Nineveh. 

At this same time commenced the gradual deca- 
dence of Assyria's power. The nations who had for- 
merly remained faithful to Assyria now separated 
themselves from the last but one of the Assyrian 
kings (Samuges ?), or were compelled by the Medes 
to renounce their allegiance. The second king of 
Media, Phraortes (Fravartch) subdued nation after 
nation, finally even the Persians, and in combina- 
tion with the latter he undertook a campaign 
against Nineveh. The Assyrians, however, though 
deserted by their allies, were yet sufficiently strong 
and warlike to effect the defeat of the Median host 
(635) when Phraortes was killed. But his son Cyax- 
ares, who was yet more daring and adventurous than 
his father, hastened to avenge the latter, collected 
a large army, which he divided according to the 
weapons used by the various soldiers, attacked As- 
syria, defeated its army, and advanced to Nineveh 
(634). Whilst besieging the Assyrian capital he 
was however forced to meet the countless hordes of 
wild Scythians, whom he bribed by large sums to 
refrain from hostilities. The Assyrians were also 
compelled to follow a like course, and the Scy- 
thians, after advancing through Phoenicia and 
Philistia, were only prevented from invading 
Egypt by the rich gifts and earnest entreaties 
of King Psammetich. Thereupon a great number 
of the Scythians quitted the neighbourhood - and 
went to the north, a part of them, no doubt, 


seizing on Asia Minor. A number of them 
remained in Philistia, overran the countr}% and 
burnt the temple of the Assyrian goddess of vice, 
Mylitta. The Scythians swarmed from Philistia 
into the neigbouring country of Judaea, ravaged the 
land, carried off the cattle, and burnt the cities and 
villages. They appear, however, not to have 
entered Jerusalem. No doubt the youthful king 
Josiah, with the mayor of his palace, went to meet 
them, and induced them by payment of treasure to 
spare the capital. 

This reign of terror, when reports of the destruc- 
tion of towns and the cruel murder of men were 
ever reaching the ears of the people, made a deep 
impression on the inhabitants of Judah. Where 
the predictions of the prophets were listened 
to with deaf ears, the actual fulfilment of them 
proved the folly of idolatrous worship. Had 
the gods of Assyria, Babylon, Phoenicia, or 
Philistia been able to save their people from the 
violent attack of the Scythians ? A change of sen- 
timents now came over the inhabitants of Jerusalem 
and the spirit of King Josiah was deeply touched. 
He was gentle, pious, and susceptible by nature, 
but from custom he had devoted himself to the 
follies of idolatry without, however, entirely 
identifying himself with the malpractices of the 
times. The eventful occurrences around showed 
him that he and his nation were wandering in 
crooked paths. He did not, however, venture, 
when he had come to this conclusion, to cast 
out from the capital of his kingdom an idol- 
worship which had been introduced during his 
grandfather's reign half a century before. He 
did not dare to arouse the princes of Judah, who 
held the reigns of power, and who were strongly 
attached to idolatry. This would have required 
heroic decision, and Josiah could not bring himself 
to act with the required strength of purpose. It 


was, therefore, necessary for some one to urge him 
to action, and to the assertion of his royal power 
over those who surrounded him. The prophets, 
therefore, worked to this end of inducing- Josiah 
to return to the service of their own God, and 
to put aside all foreign worship. Meanwhile he 
took one preliminary step, which was to rescue the 
Temple of the Lord from its deserted state and the 
decay into which it was falling. The walls, and halls, 
and outbuildings of the Temple were cracking and 
threatened to fall, the decorations had been carried 
away, but Josiah took measures to prevent its out- 
ward decay. He recalled the exiled Priests and 
Levites to the service of the Temple (627), and com- 
manded them to collect money and to employ it in 
renovating the Temple. At their head he placed 
the high priest Hilklah, whose house had been kept 
clean from the impurities of idol-worship. But it 
was difficult to collect money for repairing the 
Temple. The love of the rich for their Temple had 
grown cold, or the nation had become so impo- 
verished through the pillages of the Scythians that 
it was impossible to reckon on freewill offerings 
like those in the times of King Joash. Thus it be- 
came necessary almost to beg together gifts and 
donations for the repairing of the sanctuary. Le- 
vitlc emissaries went through the city and country, 
from house to house, asking for contributions. 
Meanwhile, though King Josiah was thus actively 
working for the Temple, he was wanting in firmness 
against the errors of Idolatry. It was noticeable that 
a great number of the nobles had returned to their 
ancient creed, and that they swore by Jehovah, 
though they continued to worship idols. One other 
event had yet to come to pass before Josiah could 
resolve to terminate the rule of idolatry. And this 
influence, coming from two sides, induced him to 
take a final step. The necessary impetus came 
partly from one of the prophets, who, from early 


youth, had spoken in powerful and irresistible lan- 
guage, and partly from a book which had revealed 
to the king the error of his indecision. These two 
combined to bring about a better state of things in a 
large circle, and also to lend fresh interest and a 
halo of poetr}^ to the ancient law. The youth was 
the prophet Jeremiah, and the book that of Deuter- 
onomy. Jeremijahu (Jeremiah), son of Hilkiah, 
(born 645-640, died 580-570,) came from the little 
town of Anathoth, in the tribe of Benjamin. He 
was not poor, though not actually rich. His uncle 
Shallum and the latter' s son Hanameel (his mother's 
relations) possessed landed property in Anathoth. 

Jeremiah's soul was rich and pure, like a clear 
mirror or a deep well-spring. Endowed with a ten- 
der disposition and inclined to melancholy, the 
religious and moral condition of his surroundings 
had made a sad impression on him, even in his 
earliest youth. All that was false, perverse, and 
unworthy was painful to his feelings, and filled him 
with grief. From the time that he took action, his 
countrymen the priests of Anathoth persecuted him 
with such burning hate that it was impossible to 
think that they could have originally directed his 
mind. No doubt, however, the writings of the elder 
prophets exercised an influence over his disposition 
and ideas. His spirit became so imbued with the 
teachings of the Law that he used its thoughts, ex- 
pressions, and words as his own. This occupation 
with the written prophetic legacies gave his mind 
its tendency, and filled him with exalted ideas of 
God, of the moral order, the importance of Israel's 
past, and its significance in the future, and taught 
him to hate what was low. Such was Jeremiah's 
dedication as a prophet, and he afterwards initiated 
others, either in Anathoth or in Jerusalem. The 
description of his induction can bear no comparison 
with the simplicity and depth with which Isaiah 
asserted himself as a prophet. The times demanded 


Other eloquence to that of former periods. Moral 
degradation had more strongly penetrated the na- 
tion, and danger must ensue if help were not soon 
at hand. Jeremiah no longer spoke, like former 
prophets, to a small cultured circle, but to a great 
mass of people, to the princes, the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, and the people of Judah. On them 
figures of speech would have been wasted ; it was 
necessary to speak clearly, and to the purpose, in 
order that the predictions might have effect, and so 
Jeremiah spoke chiefly in simple prose, and only 
occasionally used metaphorical terms. Threats of 
punishment and announcements of salvation from 
the ancient prophets, with the exception of Isaiah, 
were mostly uncertain in their tenour, and on this 
account the scornful inhabitants of Jerusalem had 
cast them to the winds. 

Jeremiah had to counteract the effects of such 
scornful indifference to prophetic announcements. 
He was endowed with greater prophetic gifts than 
any of his predecessors — even than Isaiah. He 
prophesied in the first instance from year to year ; 
later on, when the tragic events reached their 
fulfilment, he predicted from month to month oc- 
currences that were to come to pass, and his pro- 
phetic vision was realized with marvellous accu- 
racy. He did not see the future in the uncertain 
light of dreams, but in broad daylight, with waking 
senses, and in communion with the outer world. 
Then he did not speak in enigmas, did not make 
hidden allusions to things, but spoke of them as 
they were. His pure prophetic spirit received the 
heavy task of rousing up the perverse nation, which 
had been wandering in wrong paths for nearly half 
a century, just at the time that the king was 
rousing himself from the indolent habits of lethargy 
into which he had drifted. 

No sooner had Jeremiah been informed of his 
task, than his diffidence and fear disappeared. He 


describes the sensations which the prophetic spirit 
awoke in him (Jeremiah xxiii. 29) : 

" Is not my word like as a fire ? saith the Lord : and like a 
hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" 

His first speech of burning- eloquence was di- 
rected against the nation which from its very com- 
mencement had fallen into a course of idolatrous 
errors and immoral deeds of horror. Jeremiah not 
only hurled his crushing words against the per- 
verted worship of the Deity, but against the fre- 
quent recurrence of bloodshed (Jeremiah ii.). 

Words like these from so young- a speaker, could 
not fail to make an impression. Some of the noble 
families turned away from their immoral courses, 
and acknowleged the God worshipped by Jeremiah 
and the other prophets. The family of Shaphan, 
which occupied a high position, joined the prophet's 
party, and defended it with fervour. King Josiah, 
meanwhile devoted himself to the restoration of 
the ruined Temple. He commissioned (62 1 ) three of 
his chief officers — Shaphan, his captain of the city, 
Maasseiah, the governor of the city, and his chan- 
cellor Joah, to induce the high priests to employ 
the entire sums collected for their proper pur- 
poses, and to hand over the money (part of which 
was for building materials, and part for paying 
the architects) to the higher officials. When Hilkiah 
gave up the sum he also handed a large roll to 
Shaphan, saying, *' I have found this Book of the 
Law in the Temple.'' Shaphan read the roll, 
and was so struck by the contents that he informed 
the king of the discovery that had been made. 
This book exercised a wonderful influence. The 
Book of the Law which the high priest Hilkiah 
gave to Shaphan to hand to the king was the last 
testament of the prophet Moses, which he com- 
manded his people to take to heart before he left 
them for ever. It has an historical introduction, 
and the history itself is continued until after the 


death of Moses. Laws are generally cold, stern, 
and hard, and with threatening gesture they say, 
**Thou shalt, or shalt not, or heavy punishment 
will overtake thee." The law-book found in the 
time of Josiah is not couched in such terms. 
It exhorts, warns, and actually entreats that this 
or that may be done or left undone. It uses the 
language of a loving father, whose son, standing 
before a great goal, is warned not to lose the bright 
future before him through his own fault, and thus 
become an object of scorn and disgrace. A pleasing 
breeze is wafted from this book of Deuteronomy. 
The laws (Mizvoth), statutes (Chukkim), and ordi- 
nances (Mishpatim) are surrounded by historical 
reminiscences, and clothed in the language of 
poetry, as though entwined by flowers. 

The book also contains a peculiar hymn, said to 
have been composed by Moses. In this hymn it 
is stated how the nation, in consequence of its 
prosperity, would turn away to false gods, and 
that a depraved nation would punish them. How 
it would then see that its chosen gods could not 
avail it, and that God alone, who had so won- 
derfully guided it, who could kill and make to 
live, could wound and heal — how He would avenge 
it, and purify the stained land. It is terrible 
to see inscribed on this parchment the threats of 
punishment for disobeying the laws. The veil is 
snatched away from the future, and shows the 
terrible disasters which await the people and the 
king, if they continued in their present course. 
All the plagues which could bring humanity to 
despair are vividly described In this picture. On 
the one hand are deformity, starvation, drought 
and pestilence, humiliation and persecution, op- 
pressive slavery and disgrace ; on the other hand, 
madness and degradation. 

- This peculiar book of the Law, with its heartfelt 
exhortations and its gloomy prospect, which the 


priest Hilklah had found, was read by Shaphan, who 
carried it in haste to King Josiah, and read to him 
passages out of it. Terrified and shaken by the 
threats of punishment, and crushed by a feeling of 
his sin in hitherto permitting errors so plainly 
depicted in the newly-discovered book, the king 
in his despair tore his garments and was quite 
beside himself. He sent for the high priest Hil- 
kiah to counsel him. On his suggestion, King 
Josiah sent him and some of his officers to the 
prophetess Huldah, wife of Shallum the overseer 
of the wardrobe, one of the royal officers. She 
announced to the king that the impending mis- 
fortune should not descend on him and his people 
in Josiah' s days, as he had repented of his former 

Comforted as to the fate of his people during his 
own reign, King Josiah pursued the task of regener- 
ating their condition with great energy. He took 
the newly-discovered book of the law as his guiding 
principle, and was far more severe and thorough 
than Hezekiah in his mode of uprooting idolatry. 
He first summoned all the elders of the people from 
the capital and the country, as also the entire popu- 
lation of the capital, the priests and prophets and 
even the humblest woodcutter and water-drawer of 
the Temple, and had the contents of the law book 
read to them. He, meanwhile, stood during the 
reading on a pulpit which had been brought for the 
king's use into the Temple. For the first time the 
entire nation of Judah was informed of its duties, its 
hopes and prospects according as it obeyed or dis- 
obeyed the laws. The king proposed to formulate 
a bond by which all present should be obliged to 
carry out with heart and soul the laws and ordi- 
nances which had been read to them. Then the 
words were loudly proclaimed, *' May all those be 
cursed who depart from this law," and all present 
said ** Amen." The king commanded the high priest 


Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, who had 
to watch over the Temple, and the Levitical guar- 
dians of the Temple gates, to cleanse it from the 
various forms of idol worship. Thus the disgrace- 
ful figure of Astarte, the altars and cells of the 
Temple prostitutes, also all articles belonging to 
the worship of Baal and Astarte, the sun-horses at 
the entrance of the Temple, and lastly the altars for 
the worship of the stars were all set aside, crushed 
and burnt in the vale of Kidron and the ashes cast 
over the graves of the dead. The altar in the vale 
of Hinnom, where children were sacrificed, was 
desecrated by order of the king. All the chief 
altars throughout the country were destroyed. 
This was continued as far as Bethel, where the 
Cuthaeans, who had settled in the place, and the 
remnant of Israel still had their sanctuaries, and as 
far as those towns which had formerly belonged to 
Samaria. The priests were deprived of their idols 
and altars, those of Levitical descent were obliged 
to remain in Jerusalem, where they could be under 
supervision, but though not allowed to offer sacri- 
fices, they received their part of the tithes of the 
Aaronites. The foreign priests were partly or 
entirely displaced, and probably sent out of the 
country. Josiah made a cruel exception of the 
Israelite priest in Bethel who had continued 
the worship of the bull which had been intro- 
duced by Jeroboam and which had caused the 
perversion of the nation. This priest was killed 
on one of the altars, and the latter were desecrated 
by human remains. The king determined to make 
a striking example of Bethel, the spot where the 
negation and neglect of God's ancient law had 
originated. The less guilty descendants had in 
this case, as in many others, to atone for their 
more guilty forefathers. The king himself com- 
menced the desecration of the idolatrous altar at 
Bethel. He cleared away the various idol-worships 


which had taken root and flourished at different 
times on Jewish ground, and he thus acted 
according to the precepts contained in the Book 
of Deuteronomy. 

In the spring of the same year (621) Josiah 
summoned the entire nation to celebrate the feast 
of Passover in Jerusalem, according to the or- 
dinances of the Law, and the nation willingly 
obeyed his mandate, having sworn to act ac- 
cording to the Law. This festival — celebrated 
for the first time by the mass of the nation — was 
rendered especially solemn by inspiring psalms, 
accompanied by the singing and harp-playing of 
the Levites. One psalm — which was apparently 
sung on that occasion — has been preserved. The 
choir of Levitical singers exhorted the Aaronites to 
praise the God of Jacob, reminded them of the 
persecutions they had undergone, of the deliver- 
ance from Egypt, and of the revelation at Sinai, 
and also admonished them to keep away from 
strange gods. They alluded to the exile of a part 
of the nation, and prophesied happy days for those 
who observed the Sinaitic law. (Psalm Ixxxi.) 
Josiah' s energetic action against idolatry appeared 
so important an event to the faithful portion of the 
people that the prophets dated a new epoch from 
that time. The horrors of idolatry, with its terrible 
effects, which had so demoralised the nation for 
seven decades, had suddenly disappeared, owing to 
the zeal of the king. Social conditions were doubt- 
less also improved. It is probable that Josiah in- 
sisted on the enfranchisement of Hebrew slaves who 
had been six years in slavery, in accordance with 
the law which he had chosen as his guide. He no 
doubt also appointed unbiassed judges, who should 
secure justice to the poor and the helpless against 
those in power. Historical accounts assert of Josiah 
that no king before him ever returned so sincerely 
to God, and carried out the law of Moses so 


Strictly. In fact, Josiah appears also to have 
exerted himself energetically in political matters ; 
he had the courage to assert himself even against 

At the outset of his prophetic career Jeremiah 
had announced a period of universal dispersion and 
decay, to be followed by a new constitution of 
things. This change began in the last years of 
Josiah' s reign. The empire of Assyria, which had 
subjected so many nations to its yoke, was to be 
delivered over to total destruction, and in its place 
new empires were to arise. Media and Babylon, 
the nearest dependencies of Nineveh, avenged the 
crimes of which that city had been guilty in its 
proud treatment of its adherents. The adven- 
turous Nabopolassar, of Babylon (625-605), had 
broken the last tie which bound his country to 
Assyria, and had made himself independent. Egypt 
also endeavoured to take advantage of the in- 
creasing weakness of Assyria. Here a daring 
king named Necho (Nekos Nekaii), son of Psam- 
metich (the former restorer of Egypt's power), had 
ascended the throne. Necho assembled a great 
army, with the intention of conquering the district 
of the Lebanon as far as the Euphrates, and of 
humiliating Assyria. Having stormed the fortified 
Philistine city of Gaza, Necho advanced along the 
slope on the., coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and 
purposed reaching the Jordan by the plain of Jezreel. 
Josiah, however, opposed his advance through this 
territory, which had formerly been in the possession 
of the Israelites. Hardly had Necho and his army 
reached the middle of the plain of Jezreel than the 
army of Judah barred his way at Megiddo. The 
Egyptian king is supposed to have assured 
Josiah that this campaign was not directed against 
the land of Judah, but against more distant terri- 
tories. Notwithstanding this, Josiah compelled 
him to do battle. The result was disastrous to 

VOL. I. X 


the king of Judah, for his army was beaten, and he 
himself was dangerously wounded (608). His 
attendants brought the body of their beloved 
king to Jerusalem, and on his arrival there he 
breathed his last. When he was interred in the 
new mausoleum, men and women cried bitterly, 
and exclaimed, ** Oh, king! oh, glory!" On the 
anniversary of the day on which this last excellent 
king of the house of David had sunk pierced by 
arrows, a psalm of mourning was sung, composed 
by Jeremiah for the occasion. No king was more 
sincerely mourned than Josiah, for the unfortunate 
battle of Megiddo in the plain of Jezreel, was the 
turning point in the history of Judah. 



Effects of Josiah's Foreign Policy — Jehoahaz — Jehoiakim — Egyptian 
Idolatry introduced — The Prophets — Uriah the Son of She- 
maiah — Jeremiah's renewed Labours — Fall of Assyria — Nebu- 
chadnezzar — Baruch reads Jeremiah's Scroll — Submission of 
Jehoiakim — His Rebellion and Death— Jehoiachin — Zedekiah — 
Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar — The Siege raised owing 
to the Intervention of Egypt — Defeat of the Egyptians — Renewal 
of the Siege — Capture of Jerusalem — Zedekiah in Babylon — 
Destruction of the Capital — Jeremiah's Lamentations. 

608—586 B.C. 

JosiAH had expected to secure the independence of 
Judah, and by means of the intervention of Egypt 
to put a Stop to the incursions of other powers. 
The very reverse of this happened : for his policy 
led to the subjection of his own people. In Jeru- 
salem, where the king's death was bitterly mourned, 
no further steps were taken till the election of a 
new king had been decided on. Josiah had left 
three sons ; the first born of whom was Eliakim, 
and the two younger sons, Shallum and Mattaniah. 
The father appears to have named Shallum, the 
son of his favourite wife, as his successor. In 
order to do honour to their deeply-mourned king, 
the people confirmed Josiah's choice, though Shal- 
lum was two years younger than Eliakim. On his 
accession he, according to custom, took a different 
name — that of Jehoahaz. 

Matters had, however, come to such a pass that 
the will of the nation could no longer establish 
their king firmly, nor could the holy oil render his 
person sacred : the decisive word lay with another 
power. The king of Egypt, to whom the country 

X 2 


had become subject by the victory at Megiddo, had 
decided otherwise. Apparently, without troubhng 
himself about Judzea, Necho had reached the dis- 
trict of the Euphrates by forced marches ; had ob- 
tained possession of the territories of Aram or 
Syria, belonging to Assyria, and had taken up his 
residence in Riblah. Jehoahaz repaired thither to 
meet Necho to have his election confirmed by him, 
and at the same time to receive the land of Judaea 
from him as a tributary state. But the newly- 
elected king found no favour in the eyes of the 
Egyptian sovereign, who caused him to be put in 
chains and carried off to Egypt. He then named 
Eliakim King of Judah. Jehoahaz had only 
reigned three months. 

Eliakim, or, as he was called after his accession, 
Jehoiakim (607-596), had to perform an unpleasant 
duty at the very commencement of his reign. 
Necho had imposed a heavy and humiliating tribute 
on the land of 100 khikars of silver and one khikar 
of gold, as a punishment on Josiah for having hin- 
dered his march through the country. There was 
no treasure at that time in the palace or Temple. 
Jehoiakim therefore commanded that all the 
wealthy should subscribe a part of their property, 
and caused these sums to be forcibly collected by 
his servants. Added to this humiliation was yet 
another evil. The nation, owing to the moral and 
religious improvement brought about by Josiah, 
and trusting in the predictions contained in the 
Law lately discovered, had hoped to have happier 
times, but now found themselves disappointed. The 
king who acknowledged God had fallen on the 
battle-field, and had been brought back dying to 
the capital : the flower of the Israelite army had 
been cut down, a royal prince lay in fetters, and 
the country had fallen into a humiliating bondage. 

This change occasioned a turn in the tide of 
opinion, and was followed by a relapse. The entire 


nation, and even the more enlightened amongst 
them, began to doubt the power of God, who had 
not fulfilled, or could not fulfil, the promises He 
had to a certain extent made to them. They be- 
came impressed with the idea that the idolatrous 
practices of the people which had existed during 
so long a period under Manasseh, would render 
them happier. They therefore returned to their 
evil ways, erected altars and high places on every 
hill and under every green tree. In Judah there 
were as many gods as there were towns. They 
specially worshipped the Egyptian goddess Neith, 
the Queen of Heaven. She was adored in 
Sais, the capital of King Necho ; for had not 
this goddess assisted the Egyptian king in the 
victory he obtained ? Images of gold and silver, 
of wood and stone, were again erected in the 
houses. The Temple itself was, as in Manasseh' s 
time, once more desecrated by hideous idols. The 
most disgraceful feature of the change was that 
the sacrifice of children again prevailed, as in the 
days of Ahaz and Manasseh. In the beautiful 
Valley of Hinnom an altar was again erected, 
and weeping infants were ruthlessly offered up 
to Moloch, the first-born especially being selected 
for the sacrifice. 

These idolatrous and immoral practices were ac- 
companied by other sins and crimes — by vice, 
adultery, oppression of strangers, widows and 
orphans, by corruption of justice, untruth, dis- 
honesty, usury and cruelty towards impecunious 
debtors, and murder. There was certainly a class 
which upheld the law, and which regretted the 
horrors of these crimes. But amongst the masses 
who gave themselves up to the perversions of 
idolatry and immorality, it was difficult for those 
who desired better things to give practical effect 
^ to their views. False prophets advocated wrong- 


may not actually have encouraged the revival 
of idolatry, at any rate permitted it, and whether 
from weakness, or from sympathy with them, did 
not dissociate himself from the others. The stern 
warnings of the prophets were unheeded by the 
king, his monitors being persecuted or slain. 

The prophets of God had a heavy task in this 
time of decadence, and were subjected to persecu- 
tion and ill-treatment. They paid but little heed 
to the dangers they incurred ; they felt impelled to 
oppose fearlessly the moral and religious fall which 
was impending. At no period did there arise so 
many prophets as in the last two decades before 
the destruction of the Jewish kingdom. They 
addressed the nation, the princes, and the king 
daily, on every opportunity ; they warned, roused, 
and threatened them, and prophesied their destruc- 
tion, if the prevailing wickedness did not cease. 
The names of only four of these prophets have 
been preserved : Jeremiah, Uriah, Habakkuk, and 
Ezekiel. But the prophecies of others, who fought 
the battle against idolatr}% have remained, though 
their names have not been recorded. 

Of Uriah, son of Shemaiah, from the forest city 
(Kirjath-Jearim), nothing is known, except his 
tragical death. At the commencement of the reign 
of King Jehoiakim (between 607-604) he had 
prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
whole country, if the people did not give up 
their evil ways. When Jehoiakim was informed 
of this prophecy of evil, he dispatched messengers, 
in order to seize and kill its author. Meanwhile 
Uriah, having been secretly warned of his danger, 
fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim, however, was so 
enraged against him, that he sent one of his 
nobles to Egypt in order to demand his sur- 
render. He was brought back to Jerusalem and 
beheaded there; his body being cast on the 
common burial-place of his people. This murder 


of the prophet, instead of intimidating Jeremiah, 
seems to have confirmed him in his energetic 
action. With the accession of Jehoiakim and the 
commencement of the decadence of the nation 
to its former state of sin he began his work 
as a prophet, which had been in abeyance during 
the reign of Josiah. Jeremiah now, for the first 
time, comprehended the meaning of the words 
which had been addressed to him as a disciple 
in the first hours of his prophetic calling. **I 
have made thee as a defenced city, and an iron 
pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, 
against the king of Judah, against the princes 
thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the 
people of the land." He was to remain firm and 
unmoved, and to meet fearlessly the impending 
persecutions. Acting on this idea, he prepared to 
announce the inevitable destruction, though his 
tender heart bled, and he often had to seek fresh 
courage in order to sustain himself agnaist his 
prophecies of danger. Jeremiah meanwhile had 
grown to man's estate ; but he took no wife. 
He could not devote himself to household joys, 
whilst the shadow of approaching troubles dark- 
ened his soul. He went forth alone and in 
sadness. He could take no part in convivial 
pleasures, because the sins of the nation crushed 
in him all feelings of gladness. 

Through one of his first addresses in Jehoia- 
kim' s reign he drew on himself the hatred of all 
zealous idolaters, and especially of the priests 
and false prophets. When the populace, at one of 
the festivals, had assembled to offer up sacrifices, 
he called to them, 

" Thus saith the Lord God of Hosts : Amend your ways and your 
doings, and I will cause you to dwell in peace. ... Is this 
house, which is called by my name, to be a den of robbers ? Behold 
even I have seen it, saith the Lord. , . . And now, because ye 
have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you 
rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you and 


ye answered not, therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by 
my name, wherein ye trust and unto the place which I gave to you and 
your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh." 

Hardly had Jeremiah finished these words than 
the priests and false prophets seized him, and said, 
**Thou shalt die — as thou hast prophesied that 
this Temple will become as that in Shiloh." A 
tumult arose in the courts of the temple, and 
some of the bystanders supported Jeremiah. 
This tumult induced some of the princes to re- 
pair from the palace to the Temple — amongst 
these was Ahikam, son of Shaphan — and others 
who belonged to the prophet's party. The 
princes immediately formed a court of justice at 
one of the gates of the Temple, and heard the accu- 
sation and defence. The priests and false prophets 
said, '' This man deserves death, for he has pro- 
phesied destruction to the city and the Temple." 
A few of the elders spoke in favour of Jeremiah. 
Then the princes said to the angry priests and false 
prophets, '^ This man does not deserve death, for 
he has spoken to us in the name of our God." 
Through the exertions of his friends, and especially 
of Ahikam, Jeremiah was set free for the time. But 
the hatred of the priests and false prophets towards 
him raged the more fiercely, and they watched for 
an opportunity to attack him. 

Meanwhile the doom of the Assyrian empire had 
been fulfilled. It fell ignominiously through the 
united exertions of Cyaxares of Media and Nabo- 
polassar of Babylon. Nineveh, the giant city, 
fell after a long siege (605). The last king of 
Assyria, Sardanapalus, burnt himself in his citadel. 
In consequence of the downfall of Assyria, im- 
portant changes occurred on the central scene of 
passing events. Media became the chief of the 
Assyrian possessions — Cyaxares took the lion's 
share, and gave to his ally, Nabopolassar, Babylon, 
Elymais, and the guardianship of the countries 


on the western side of the Euphrates. King 
Nabopolassar, the other conqueror of Nineveh, did 
not long outlive his victory. He was succeeded 
by Nebuchadnezzar — a great warrior (604-561), 
and a wise, far-seeing statesman. He was by no 
means cruel, and only punished his enemies in 
order to render them harmless. Nebuchadnezzar 
strengthened his now enlarged kingdom internally, 
erected gigantic buildings, and established a system 
of navigation by means of canals. He then under- 
took a further scheme of conquest. Aramean As- 
syria, or Syria, which was split up into small 
districts, was subdued without much opposition. 
Next Phoenicia fell, and its king, Ithobal (Eth- 
baal) II. also became Nebuchadnezzar's vassal. 

The mighty conqueror then, doubtless, offered 
Jehoiakim the alternative to pay him allegiance or to 
be crushed. On the other hand, the king of Egypt 
counselled him to resist firmly, and promised that 
he would send help. Judah once more fell into a 
condition similar to that in the days of Hezekiah, 
and became the battle field for the contest between 
two great Powers. A policy had to be resolved on, 
but whilst awaiting aid from Egypt, or a miracle, 
Jehoiakim and his counsellors delayed coming to a 
decision from day to day. 

Amidst the general alarm a fast was proclaimed; 
in the ninth month, in the winter of 600, the whole 
nation was summoned to Jerusalem, and there 
entreated the Lord to avert the impending evil 
from the land. The nation in great excitement 
and fear as to what the future might bring on 
them, crowded to the Temple as though they 
would find security there. Jeremiah meanwhile 
commanded his faithful disciple, Baruch, to write 
down the prophetic exhortation which he had 
uttered years ago to the Chaldseans when all the 
nations around Judah, including themselves, had 
been reduced to a condition of subjection. After 


Baruch had inscribed this address on a roll, Jere- 
miah commanded him to read its contents in front 
of the Temple in the presence of all the inhabi- 
tants of the capital and the entire country. The 
prophet himself was by some means prevented from 
attending-, and therefore Baruch had to go in his 
stead. Baruch unwillingly undertook his task. In 
an open hall, in the upper court of the temple, he 
read out the contents of the scroll to the whole 
nation. The address made a deep impression 
on the people, confronted as they were with the 
impending danger of an attack from Nebuchad- 
nezzar's army, which now stood but a short distance 
from Jerusalem. A young man, Michaiah, son of 
Gemariah, hastened to the princes who had as- 
sembled in one of the halls of the palace, and there, 
agitated as he was, he communicated to them what 
he had heard. The alarmed princes called on 
Baruch to read again in their presence Jeremiah's 
scroll. Each word fell heavily on their hearts, and 
they were seized with terror. They therefore de- 
termined to acquaint the king with its contents, 
hoping that he, too, would be moved, and con- 
vinced that he must give up all opposition to 
Nebuchadnezzar. The princes repaired to the 
king, and informed him of what had occurred. In 
the first moments they hoped for the best, for Je- 
hoiakim commanded that the scroll should be 
brought and read to him. As each leaf was 
read he took it and threw it into the fire. The 
princes witnessed his proceedings with dismay, and 
entreated the king not to act so as to draw down 
destruction on them. He, however, paid no heed to 
them, and continued to throw the pages into the 
fire until the whole scroll was consumed. Jehoia- 
kim then issued an edict that the prophet of evil 
and his disciple should be sought in order that 
they might be killed as Uriah had been. Hap- 
pily, the terrified princes had previously made 


arrangements to save Jeremiah and Baruch by 
hiding them in a secure place where no one could 
find them. 

It was, doubtless, a day of intense excitement for 
Jerusalem. The entire nation assembled for the 
fast, departed without having gained its end. The 
reading of the scroll had had one effect, it brought 
about dissensions amongst the princes. Those who 
were convinced by Jeremiah's prophecies and who 
contributed their aid to saving him, were determined 
to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, and amongst them 
was the Leader of the Lists (Sopher), Elishama, who 
directed the war arrangements. If he and other 
men of note were against war, Jehoiakim could hardly 
oppose them, for his throne was endangered. He 
therefore made peace with Nebuchadnezzar ; paid 
the tribute imposed, promised him military aid, and 
undertook all the duties which at that time were 
imposed on a vassal. This was the commencement 
of the Chaldaean vassalage of Judah (600). Jere- 
miah could now leave his hiding place. Incensed 
as the king was against him, he dared not touch a 
hair of his head, for the princes who had saved 
him continued to protect him. 

Jehoiakim meanwhile bore the Chaldaean yoke 
with great reluctance; he could no longer give 
reins to his passions. The king of Egypt, no 
doubt, continued to urge Jehoiakim to rebel 
against Nebuchadnezzar. When, therefore, Eth- 
baal II. of Phoenicia withdrew his allegiance to 
Nebuchadnezzar (598), Jehoiakim, with incompre- 
hensible blindness, also refused to pay tribute, 
and allied himself with Egypt and also with Phoe- 
nicia. Nebuchadnezzar consequently had to collect 
all his forces against Egypt, and he commenced 
the siege of Tyre, which lasted thirteen years. 
He was therefore for the time being prevented 
from chastising the rebellious king of Judah, and 
the latter could give himself up to the delusion 


that he had lastingly secured his independence. 
But though Nebuchadnezzar could not send a great 
army out against him, he nevertheless distressed 
the country by predatory inroads. Jehoiakim's 
successor was his young son Jehoiachin (Jeco- 
niah — shortened into Coniah — ) or rather the reins 
of government were taken in hand by his mother, 
Nehushta. Jehoiachin remained under the delusion 
that he could oppose Nebuchadnezzar, and there- 
fore did not pay him homage. He also continued 
to practise the horrors of idolatry and immorality 
as his father had done. But these perversions of 
Jehoiachin and his mother lasted but a short time. 
Nebuchadnezzar at length succeeded in withdraw- 
ing a great portion of his army from the siege of 
Tyre. This Chaldsean army easily undertook the 
subjection of the entire country as far as the 
Egyptian river (Rhinokolura). The whole of 
Judah was also taken, with the exception of a few 
towns in the south, which had been fortified. 
Those who were not slain by the enemy were made 
prisoners. Notwithstanding this, Jehoiachin con- 
tinued his opposition, thinking himself safe behind 
the thick walls of Jerusalem, relying besides on 
the support of Egypt in the event of a siege. 

Nebuchadnezzar therefore sent some of his gene- 
rals to besiege Jerusalem. Jehoiachin had no time 
to strengthen his fortifications, for the besiegers 
were gaining on him. He therefore commenced to 
arrange conditions for submission with the generals, 
when Nebuchadnezzar came to the camp, and was 
entreated by the king, the queen-mother and her 
court, to act with mercy. The victor, however, 
showed no mercy, but imposed hard conditions. Jeho- 
iachin had to relinquish his throne —to go to Baby- 
lon into exile, together with his mother, his wives, 
his brethren, and eunuchs. He only occupied the 
throne of David for one hundred days. Nebuchad- 
nezzar acted with clemency in sparing his life, and 



in refraining altogether from bloodshed. He 
banished only ten thousand of the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, taken indiscriminately from the various 
tribes, and transplanted them in Babylon, where 
they lived in the capital. Among them he also 
carried off a thousand mechanics who were skilled 
in forging arms and building fortifications. Of 
the Judseans who lived in the country he also 
led three thousand and twenty-three to Babylon 
as prisoners. That Nebuchadnezzar took posses- 
sion of the treasures of the palace and the Temple 
was no special act of violence, but was justified 
by the military laws of those days. But he per- 
mitted the community to remain, spared the city 
and walls, and left the Temple uninjured. The 
first foreign conqueror of Jerusalem after its exis- 
tence of live hundred years, showed greater mercy 
than many of the conquerors of later ages. 

Nebuchadnezzar likewise permitted David's 
throne to exist, and placed on it the youngest 
son of Josiah, named Mattaniah, but who called 
himself Zedekiah. He was of a gentle, unwarlike 
and guidable character. The Babylonian con- 
queror thought that these qualities would be 
guarantees of peace and submission. In order, 
however, to be certain of Zedekiah as a vassal, 
Nebuchadnezzar entered into a solemn treaty with 
him and bound him by an oath of fealty. The 
land of Judah was to him merely an outpost of 
Egypt in the subjection of which he was continually 
engaged. For this reason he had sent into banish- 
ment the noble families and the princes of Judah, 
thereby removing the daring and obstinate men 
who might urge the king to ambitious schemes or 
rebellion. His object was to render Judah a weak, 
insignificant and dependent state, which should 
draw its strength from him. 

Judah might, in fact, have continued to exist as 
a modest appanage of Babylon. It would soon 


have recovered from the severe blows inflicted on 
it, though it was hard for the remnant which was 
left that the noblest families, the flower of the 
army and of the nation, should be in banishment ; 
and though the capital and the country were filled 
with sorrow in consequence of their subjection, they 
nevertheless recovered themselves with wonderful 
rapidity, and again attained to a prosperous condi- 

The nobles, however, were not satisfied with their 
modest condition ; they wished for further scope. 
The nobles of the capital not only governed the 
people, but also the court. The kings were but of 
little account, for, in imitation of the custom of 
Sardanapalus, they lived in the harem of their 
palaces, and occupied their time with trifles. The 
nobles could the more easily assert themselves, as 
their king, Zedekiah, was swayed by a most un- 
king-like weakness and indolence, and had not even 
the courage to withstand them. He was, however, 
of a good disposition, and does not seem to have 
particularly favoured idolatry, but rather to have 
regretted the national faults when they were 
brought under his notice, and to have given ear to 
the prophets. But he did not possess the power to 
oppose the nobles and their actions. Zedekiah 
may have intended to remain faithful to the 
oath of fealty which he had taken to his 
liege lord Nebuchadnezzar ; but he had not 
the strength of will to adhere to his resolu- 
tion. Rebellious schemes were secretly formed, 
of which he, in the seclusion of his palace, 
was ignorant, or, if cognisant of them, he was 
incapable of opposing them. This weakness on 
the part of the king, and daring on the part of 
the nobles, led to the fall of Judah. The nobles 
appear to have been seized with mad excitement. 
Suggestions were made in various quarters of re- 
belling against Nebuchadnezzar ; Egypt, ever 


false and deceitful — chiefly instigated them by 
making- brilliant promises of alliance which it sel- 
dom kept. On the other side. King Ethbaal of 
Tyre urged upon Judah and the neighbouring 
countries the desirability of war with Nebuchad- 
nezzar. On a third side, Judah v/as also urged to 
revolt against Babylon, namely, by the banished 
Judaeans, who stood in constant communication 
with their native land by means of letters and mes- 
sengers. They clamoured for war, because they 
nourished a vague hope that Nebuchadnezzar's 
army would be defeated, and they would, in one 
way or another, regain their freedom and return to 
their country. In the fourth year of Zedekiah's 
reign (593), the ambassadors from the countries 
which were simultaneously urging Zedekiah to 
break his word and faith, arrived in Jerusalem from 
Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon. They 
employed all the artifices of eloquence, and made 
promises and suggestions in order to bring the 
wavering monarch to a decision, urging that Judah 
should be proud to be thus sought after and courted, 
and might consider herself as the centre-point of 
political events. 

It is not known what reply Zedekiah sent to the 
ambassadors. With his weak character, he would 
certainly not come to any definite decision. Jere- 
miah opposed the universal excitement, and it 
required no little courage on his part to do so. 
His prophetic spirit perceived that Nebuchadnezzar 
was destined to hurry through a course of victories, 
and to subjugate many nations to his sceptre. He, 
therefore, warned King Zedekiah that the nation 
and priests should not give themselves up to flatter- 
ing hopes, but should submit to the Babylonian rule, 
or they would be crushed by the mighty conqueror. 
Jeremiah considered it as his prophetic calling to 
warn the deluded exiles in Babylon. He sent out 
a message telling them : 


" Build ye houses and dwell in them ; and plant gardens and eat 
the fruit of them ; take ye wives and beget sons and daughters, and 
take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that 
they may bear sons and daughters ; and multiply yc there and bfe not 
diminished. And seek ye the peace of the city whither I have caused 
you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it : for in 
the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the Lord of 
hosts, the God of Israel : Let not your prophets that be in the midst 
of you, and your diviners deceive you, neither hearken ye to your 
dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to 
you in my name : I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus 
saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished for Babylon, I 
will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you 
to return to this place." (Jeremiah xxix.) 

But Zedeklah could not long resist the entreaty — 
the voices from within, the persuasions from without, 
from Egypt and the neighbouring countries, and 
the impetuosity of Judah's ambitious nobles. He 
permitted himself to be carried away by the stream, 
refused the tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, and thus, 
forgetful of his oath, he no longer acknowledged 
the vassalage of Judah (591). Thus the die was 
cast which was destined to decide the fall of the 
nation. At length the fatal hour arrived. Nebu- 
chadnezzar, who for some time had remained pas- 
sive, proceeded with his army to chastise the 
rebellious people like disobedient slaves. It appears 
that the surrounding nations who had first urged 
the revolt, were the first to submit. Judah was left 
entirely dependent on the assistance of Eg}^pt, but 
even Egypt was afraid to carry its opposition into 
effect. It was, therefore, easy for Nebuchadnezzar 
to subdue the land of Judah and to occupy its for- 
tresses in the south-west. Lachish and Azeka alone 
offered opposition. The Chaldgean army, however, 
left them unmolested, and proceeded against Jeru- 
salem on the loth day of the loth month (at the 
end of 588 or beginning of 587). The capital of 
Judah had meanwhile been fortified and supplied 
with provisions and water for a long siege, but the 
inhabitants of the country having fled into the city 
at the approach of the enemy with their children 


and herds, had increased the number ot consumers. 
Zedekiah or his palace-officers, courtiers, and 
nobles having declined the invitation to submit, 
Nebuchadnezzar commenced a regular siege. 
The men of Jerusalem must have defended them- 
selves bravely, for the siege lasted, with a short 
interval, for nearly a year and a-half (from 
January, 587, to June, 586). The leader of the be- 
sieged party was a eunuch in the service of King 
Zedekiah. The king himself played a passive part. 
He was neither commander of the troops, nor 
leader of any movement. His irresolution and weak- 
ness came forcibly to light in this time of trouble. 

The siege of Jerusalem had made the task of 
Jeremiah a hard one. His feelings as a man and a 
patriot urged him, notwithstanding his advanced 
age, to take part in the defence and the war, in order 
to inspire the warriors with courage. His prophetic 
calling, and power of foresight on the other hand, 
compelled him to announce that the contest was in 
vain, and that the destruction of the city was 
decreed, on account of the blood which had been 
shed and the sins which had been committed. 
Freedom of speech could not at this period be 
denied him, as his name as a true prophet had 
been established by the events which had occurred. 
The nations of the North had set up their throne at 
the gates of Jerusalem, and had prepared to chas- 
tise its inhabitants. 

When the siege of Jerusalem had lasted nearly a 
year, with the fortune of war in the distance pro- 
bably constantly varying, a change suddenly took 
place. King Apries (Hophra) of Egypt at length 
determined to keep his often repeated promise, by 
sending an army against Nebuchadnezzar. This 
Egyptian army must have been a mighty one, for the 
Chaldaeans, hearing of its approach, raised the siege 
of Jerusalem, and marched to oppose it (February or 
March, 586). The joy in Jerusalem was unbounded; 

VOL. I. Y 



as the gates were at length opened, after being so 
long closed, the inhabitants hurried out to enjoy a 
sense of freedom. Hardly had the terrors of the 
siege abated, than various nobles and princes re- 
turned to their former ruthless ways. The slaves 
(male and female) who had been released were, 
notwithstanding solemn treaties and oaths, com- 
pelled to return to their former bondage and former 
degradation. Jeremiah was deeply angered at this 
cruelty and selfishness; he delivered a scathing 
address to the nobles and king, in which he dwelt 
on their sin, and announced that the Chaldseans 
would return, would capture Jerusalem, and that 
fire, war, hunger, and pestilence would rage 
amongst the people. 

The princes of Judah had been greatly incensed 
against Jeremiah for his former opposition ; but 
his last address excited even more violent hatred 
against him. As he was one day leaving the city 
to go to his birth-place Anathoth, he was seized 
by a spy, under the pretext that he was deserting 
to the Chaldseans. In spite of his assurance that he 
had no thought of flight, he was delivered up to the 
princes. Glad of an opportunity to revenge them- 
selves on him, they treated him as a renegade, beat 
him, and put him in a cistern-cell (Adar, 586) in 
the house of Jonathan, the leader of the army, who, 
as a hard, heartless man was made his jailor. In 
this narrow, dirty, unhealthy place Jeremiah re- 
mained for several days. 

The joy and delirium did not last long in Jeru- 
salem. The Chaldaean army, which had marched 
against the Egyptian forces under Apries, utterly 
routed the enemy, and put them to flight. The power 
of Egypt was thereby greatly weakened, and Judah 
was now again left entirely to its own resources. 
The Chaldaeans returned to the siege of Jerusalem, 
and surrounded it yet more closely than before, so as 
to bring the siege to an end. The courage of those 


who were shut up in the capital began to fail. 
Many, anxious for their own safety, left the besieged 
city at open places, and went over to the Chal- 
dseans, or fled to Egypt. King Zedekiah himself 
was fearful for the result, and saw too late that he 
had been guilty of folly in attempting to set himself 
up to cope with the Babylonian power. 

Not alone had the war killed off many, but famine 
now increased the number of deaths. The number 
of warriors continued to decrease, and at last so 
few remained that they were unable to defend the 
walls. At length the last hour of Jerusalem struck, 
that city which even the heathen had considered 
impregnable. On the 9th Tamuz (June, 586) there 
was no more bread in the city, and in consequence 
of the utter exhaustion of the garrison, the Chal- 
dseans succeeded in making a wide breach in the 
wall, by which they penetrated into the city. 
Nebuchadnezzar was not present ; he was at 
Riblah, in Syria. The eldest of the Magi and 
others entered unmolested into the midst of Jeru- 
salem, in order to pass judgment on the inhabi- 
tants. The Chaldsean warriors doubtlessly met with 
no opposition, as the inhabitants, reduced to skele- 
tons by famine, could hardly move. They there- 
fore spread over all parts of the city, killing 
youths and men who appeared capable of resist- 
ance, making prisoners of others and loading them 
with chains. The fierce warriors, rendered savage 
by the long siege, violated women and maidens 
irrespective of age. They also entered the Temple 
and massacred the Aaronites and prophets who 
had sought safety in the Sanctuary, amidst cries of 
anger, as if they wished to wage war with the God 
of Israel. The Chaldseans were accompanied by 
many of the neighbouring nations, the Philistines, 
Idumseans, and Moabites, who had joined Ne- 
buchadnezzar. They pillaged the treasures and 
desecrated the Sanctuary. 

Y 2 


Zedekiah with the remahider of the warriors 
had meanwhile succeeded in escaping at night 
into the royal gardens, and by a subterranean pas- 
sage had reached the north-eastern part of the 
city. He sought in haste to reach the Jordan, but 
Chaldsean horsemen had hurried after the fugi- 
tives and blocked their way in the narrow passes. 
Weakened as they were, rather groping along 
than walking, they could be easily overtaken and 
made captive. In the city, the only dignitaries 
whom the troops found were the High Priest 
(Seraiah), the Captain of the Temple (Zephaniah), 
the Eunuch who had led the battle, the Leader of 
the Lists (Sopher), the confidants of the king, and 
about sixty other soldiers. They were all taken to 
Riblah, and there beheaded at Nebuchadnezzar's 
command. No one could remain in Jerusalem or 
its neighbourhood, as the air was rendered pesti- 
lential by the numerous corpses which lay un- 
buried. Amongst the prisoners was the prophet 
Jeremiah. He was found in Mattara, in the king's 
palace, and was considered as a palace servant by 
the Chaldsean soldiers who made him prisoner. 
His disciple Baruch no doubt shared his fate. The 
generals appointed Gedaliah, a Judaean of noble 
birth, son of Ahikam, of the family of Shaphan, as 
overseer of the prisoners and fugitives. 

The last hope fled from the unfortunate remnant 
of the nation when the news reached them that the 
king was taken. Zedekiah and his followers were 
overtaken at Jericho by the Chald?ean horsemen. 
Whilst the warriors who were with him fled 
at the approach of the enemy, and crossed the 
Jordan or took refuge in some hiding-place, Zede- 
kiah, his sons, and some of his nobles were taken 
prisoners by the Chaldaeans, and led to Riblah, be- 
fore Nebuchadnezzar. He rightly poured out all his 
anger on the king for his violation of word and 
faith ; but the punishment he inflicted on him was 


sufficiently cruel. Nebuchadnezzar caused all 
Zedekiah's sons and relations to be executed 
before his eyes, and then had him blinded. De- 
prived of his sight and laden with chains he was 
taken to Babylon. 

What was to be done with the city of Jerusalem ? 
She had become a charnel-house, but was still 
standing. The generals who had captured her 
had not received instructions as to her fate. 
Nebuchadnezzar himself appears at first to have 
been in doubt about it, but at last he sent Nebuzar- 
adan, the chief of his guard, with orders to destroy 
the city. The Idumsean nobles, filled with hate, 
immediately sought to make him complete the 
destruction without mercy (Psalm cxxxvii. 7). 
Nebuzaradan received orders to raze the walls, 
to burn the Temple, palace, and all the beautiful 
houses, and this order was conscientiously fulfilled, 
(loth Ab — August, 586). The treasures still re- 
maining in the Temple, the artistically-worked iron 
pillars, the iron sea, the musical instruments, were 
all broken to pieces and conveyed to Babylon. 

Jerusalem had become a heap of ruins, the 
temple mount a wilderness, but not one of the great 
capitals which fell from the height of glory into 
the dust has been so honoured in its destruction as 
Jerusalem. Poetry recorded her mournful fate in 
hymns, psalms, and prayers, in such touching 
tones that every tender heart must feel compassion 
with her even at this day. Poetry has wound a 
martyr's crown round her head, and this has be- 
come her aureole. 

Jeremiah and one or two other poets composed 
four lamentations for the four stages of trouble 
which befell the city. The first lamentation deals 
with the time immediately after the capture of Jeru- 
salem. The city still stood, the walls, palaces, and 
temple were not yet destroyed, but they were de- 
prived of their inhabitants and their pleasures. This 


lamentation chiefly deplores the desolation of Jeru- 
salem, its greatest sorrow lies in the faithlessness of 
its allies, who now show pleasure at its fall. The 
second lamentation deplores the destruction of 
the city and its walls, and especially the fall of 
the sanctuary. The third lamentation bemoans 
the destruction of all that was noble through the 
famine, and the hopelessness which befell the 
survivors on the capture of the king. The fourth 
lamentation describes the utter desolation of Jeru- 
salem after its complete destruction by the enemy. 



The National Decay — The Fugitives — Enmity of the Idumasans — 
Johanan, Son of Kareah — The Lamentation — Nebuchadnezzar 
appoints GedaHah as Governor — Jeremiah Encourages the 
People — Mizpah — Ishmael Murders Gedaliah — The Flight to 
Egypt — Jeremiah's Counsel Disregarded — Depopulation of Judah 
— The Idumaeans make Settlements in the Country — Obadiah — 
Condition of the Judaeans in Egypt — Defeat of Hophra — Egypt 
under Amasis — Jeremiah's Last Days. 

586—572 B.C. 

About a thousand years had passed since the 
tribes of Israel had so courageously and hopefully 
crossed the Jordan under their brave leader, and 
half that interval had elapsed since the first two 
kings of the house of David had raised the nation 
to a commanding position, to end thus. The 
greater part of the Ten Tribes had been scattered 
for more than a century in various unknown 
countries. The remaining tribes, composing the 
kingdom of Judah, had been overtaken by war, 
hunger, and disease, a very small number had been 
led away into captivity, and an insignificant few 
had emigrated or fled to Egypt, or lived in their 
own country in constant terror of the fate which 
the victors might have reserved for them. The 
numerous hosts of enemies, in fact, let loose their 
anger against these few, in order to complete their 
destruction, so that not a single Israelite might 

The remainder of the soldiers who had fled at 
night with Zedekiah from the ruined capital had 
dispersed at the approach of the Chaldaean soldiers. 
A handful, under the command of one of the princes 


of royal blood, Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, had 
escaped across the Jordan, and had found shelter 
with the Ammonite king, Baalis. The rest had 
preferred to flee to Egypt, whither several families 
had already emigrated, because, as Hophra was 
an ally of their country, they hoped to receive 
his protection. But in order to reach it they had 
to touch the territory of Idumaea, and here a fierce 
unrelenting enemy awaited them. The Idumseans, 
mindful of their old hatred, and untouched by the 
brotherly advances of Judah, unsatisfied by the fall 
of Jerusalem and by the booty they had acquired, 
carried their enmity so far as to post a guard on 
the borders of their land for the purpose of killing 
the fugitive Israelites or delivering them up to the 
Chaldaeans, with whom they wished to ingratiate 
themselves. It was not alone dislike, but • also 
policy which prompted Edom to behave with cruelty 
to the miserable fugitives. They hoped to obtain 
possession of the entire territory, which had been in 
the hands of the people of Israel. The Idum.aeans 
loudly exclaimed, '' Both the nations and both the 
kingdoms will belong to us" (Ezekiel xxxv. lo). 
The Philistines and all the neighbouring nations 
displayed both hatred and pleasure, and but few of 
the Israelite fugitives found refuge in the Phoeni- 
cian cities. Phoenicia was too far from Judaea, and 
before the fugitives could reach it they were over- 
taken and killed by the Chaldaeans. 

The greater number of the chiefs and soldiers 
who had fled from Jerusalem with Zedekiah pre- 
ferred remaining in their own country. They clung 
to the ground on which they had been born as 
though they could not leave it. At their head 
was Johanan, son of Kareah. But they had to 
seek hiding places in order to escape from the 
Chaldaeans. They hid in the hollows, grottoes 
and caves of the mountains, or in the ruins of the 
fallen cities, and no doubt had to make raids 


from their hiding places in order to seek pro- 
visions or to attack wandering Chaldseans or their 
adherents. These Judaeans were often obliged 
to seek means for their miserable existence at 
peril of their lives. If they were caught they 
were condemned to an ignominious death and dis- 
graceful treatment. The aged, who were of noble 
birth, were hanged, the young were condemned to 
carry mills from one place to another, or to other 
servile duties. In this fearful condition, which one 
of the psalmists shared with the rest, he composed 
a heartrending lamentation, the short verses of 
which sound like sobs and tears (Lamentations, 
ch. v.). For a short interval it seemed as if this 
miserable condition of the oppressed, this destruc- 
tive war against the fugitives, would come to an 
end. Nebuchadnezzar did not wish Judah to be 
annihilated ; but he determined to let the insignifi- 
cant community remain in the land, though he did 
not wish a native king to be at their head. He 
therefore determined to appoint Gedaliah, the son 
of Ahikam, over them as governor ; his capital was 
to be Mizpah, which is an hour and a half s journey 
to the north-east of Jerusalem. 

Nebuchadnezzar could not have made a better 
choice. Gedaliah was a man in every way fitted 
for meeting the difficulty of the position ; he was 
gentle and peace-loving, having been to a certain 
extent the disciple of the prophet Jeremiah, of 
whom his fafher Ahikam had been the friend and 
protector. In order to heal the still bleeding 
wounds, a gentle hand was wanted, that of a man 
endow^ed with meekness and self-negation ; Geda- 
liah was, perhaps, too gentle, or he reckoned too 
much on the good qualities of men. Nebuzaradan 
handed to him the more harmless of the prisoners, 
the daughters of King Zedekiah, as also many 
women and children, and the agriculturists, in all 
about a thousand persons. Nebuchadnezzar also 


desired that the prophet Jeremiah should assist 
him ; he therefore ordered Nebuzaradan to behave 
considerately to Jeremiah, and to be guided by all 
his wishes. 

Nebuzaradan had proceeded from Jerusalem to 
Ramah, in the vicinity of Rachel's grave, in order 
to decide which of the prisoners and deserters 
should remain in their country, and which should be 
banished to Babylon. He loosened the bonds in 
which Jeremiah, like the other prisoners, had been 
bound, and offered him the choice of emigrating 
to Babylon, where he would be kindly treated, 
or of selecting any other dwelling-place, but he 
advised him to go to Gedaliah, in Mizpah. 

Jeremiah, who had justly lamented having to see 
so much misery, had now to behold the grievous 
sight of the prisoners at Ramah, led in fetters to 
Babylon. Heart-rending were the cries of the 
unfortunate men, women, and children, who were 
being dragged away from their fatherland ; Jere- 
miah endeavoured to comfort them (Jerem. xxxi. 
14, seq.). 

With a heavy heart Jeremiah, attended by his 
disciple Baruch, prepared to visit Gedaliah in Miz- 
pah. He had not much hope of good from the 
small remnant of the more ignorant people, seeing 
that for forty years he had striven in vain amongst 
the nobles and educated classes. However, he had 
to submit. Nebuchadnezzar thought so highly of 
Jeremiah that he not only sent him presents, but 
his daily food. His presence in Gedaliah's imme- 
diate vicinity inspired those who had remained in 
the country with greater confidence in the future. 
The governor had announced that all those 
fugitives who would collect around him should 
remain unmolested and at peace in the cities, and 
should be permitted to cultivate their fields. 
Gradually the scattered tribes from Moab and the 
neighbouring countries who were not content in the 


places they had colonised, joined Gedaliah and 
made a treaty with him ; that is, they bound them- 
selves to be faithful subjects of the Chaldsean king. 

They cultivated the land, and not only grew corn, 
but also vines and figs ; the ground became fruit- 
ful, and as the population was smaU, and the 
peasant gardeners and vine owners possessed a 
large portion of the land, they succeeded in obtain- 
ing rich harvests. Several towns arose out of the 
ruins ; in Mizpah, Gedaliah erected a sanctuary, 
as Jerusalem and the Temple on the Mount were 
destroyed and only served as haunts for hyaenas. 

Mizpah thus again became a centre-point and a 
holy place. The half-Israelite, half-heathen colony 
of the Cuthseans of Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria 
recognised this sanctuary and made pilgrimages 
thither, offering sacrifices and incense. *' The 
remnant of Judah" over whom Gedaliah had been 
placed, were reminded of their dependence on a 
Chaldaean ruler by the presence of the Chaldsean 
garrison. The latter not only kept watch over 
the nation, but also over the governor, in order 
that he might not engage in conspiracies. But 
considering the circumstances, and the fearful 
misfortunes which had befallen the country, this 
state of things was more endurable, or at least more 
favourable, than the people could have expected ; 
they were, at any rate, in their own country. The 
military chiefs, who were w^eary of their adven- 
turous lives in the mountains and deserts, and of 
their contests with the wild animals that infested 
the land, and the yet wilder Chaldseans, and who 
had relied on their swords and on delusive hopes, 
now determined to submit to Gedaliah. Johanan, 
son of Koreah, and his associates laid down their 
weapons, cultivated the fields, and built up cities 
upon the ruins which until now had served them as 

The last to make peace was the leader Ishmael, 


son of Nethanlah. Ishmael was a cunning and 
unprincipled man, and an evil spirit seems to have 
accompanied him to Mizpah, in order to disturb the 
comparatively favourable condition of the remnant 
of Judah. It is true that he made peace with 
Gedaliah and the Chaldaeans, and promised sub- 
mission ; but in his heart he cherished anger and 
rage against both. Baalis, the king of Ammon, 
who had been opposed to the growth and develop- 
ment of a Judaean colony under Chaldsean protec- 
tion, now instigated Ishmael to a crime which 
should put an end to it. The remaining captains, 
and especially Johanan, the son of Koreah, mean- 
while received private intelligence of Ishmael' s 
treacherous intentions towards Gedaliah. They, 
therefore, informed Gedaliah of the matter, placed 
themselves at his disposal, and entreated permission 
to put an end to the malefactor ; but Gedaliah 
would not pay heed to their warning. This in- 
difference, whether it owed its cause to a feeling 
of power or of weakness, was destined to prove 
fatal to him and to the newly-organised com- 

It w^as about four years after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and the re-establishment of the scat- 
tered Judseans around their governor, that Ishmael, 
with ten followers, arrived in Mizpah to celebrate 
one of the festivals, and displayed great friendli- 
ness to Gedaliah. Gedaliah invited them to a 
banquet, and whilst the guests intoxicated by 
wine anticipated no evil, Ishmael and his fol- 
lowers drew their swords and killed the governor, 
the Chaldaeans, and all men present who were 
capable of bearing arms. The remaining people 
in Mizpah, the old men, women, children, and 
eunuchs, he placed under the guard of his people, 
in order that his crime might not become known. 
Ishmael and his ten followers then carried off 
into captivity the inhabitants of Mizpah, for the 


most part women and children, the daughters of 
King Zedekiah, as also the venerable prophet 
Jeremiah and his disciple Baruch, and took 
them across the Jordan to the Ammonites. 

Meanwhile, secretly as he had performed his evil 
deeds, they could not long remain unknown. 
Johanan and the other chiefs had received infor- 
mation of what had happened, and were not a 
little indignant at being deprived of their pro- 
tector and cast back into the uncertainties of an 
adventurous existence. They hurriedly armed 
themselves to punish the criminals as they deserved. 
The murderers were met at their first halting- 
place, at the lake of Gibeon, by Johanan and the 
others, who prepared to do battle with them. At 
sight of the pursuers the prisoners hurried to meet 
them, and it appears that a fray ensued, in which 
two of Ishmael's followers were killed. He, how- 
ever, escaped with eight men, crossed the Jordan, 
and returned to the land of Ammon. This horrible 
attempt had succeeded, and the community had 
been broken up through the death of Gedaliah. 

The survivors were at a loss how to act, being 
afraid to remain in their country, as it was pro- 
bable that Nebuchadnezzar would not leave the 
death of the Chaldaeans unavenged, even if he 
overlooked the murder of Gedaliah ; but would, 
no doubt, punish them as accessories. Even had 
this fear been groundless, how could they remain 
in the country without a leader to unite the un- 
ruly chiefs. Their first thought was to emigrate 
to Egypt. The chiefs, with Johanan at their 
head, therefore directed their steps southwards. 
As they gradually became calmer they thought 
it would be more desirable to remain in their father- 
land than to seek their fortune in a foreign country. 
It appears that the idea first suggested itself to 
Baruch, and that it was received with favour by 
some of the chiefs, whilst others were opposed to it. 


Owing to this difference of opinion concerning- 
the plan on which the weal and woe of so many 
depended, the leaders determined to leave the 
decision to Jeremiah. He was to pray to God, 
and entreat Him for a prophetic revelation as to 
the course they should adopt, calling on God 
to witness that they would abide by his word. 

Jeremiah passed ten days in prayer before the 
divine revelation illumined his mind. During this 
time the feelings of the leaders had changed, and 
they had all determined on emigration. When 
Jeremiah had called together the chiefs and all the 
people, in order to inform them that the prophetic 
spirit had revealed to him that they should not be 
afraid of Nebuchadnezzar, he saw from their ex- 
pression that they would receive this decision unwil- 
lingly. He therefore threatened them that should 
they insist on emigration, the sword which they 
so feared would surely destroy them ; that none of 
them should ever again behold his fatherland, and 
that they would all perish from various plagues in 
Egypt. Hardly had Jeremiah ended his address, 
when Zephaniah and also Johanan called to him, 
** Thou announcest lies in the name of God; not 
He has inspired thee with these words, but thy 
disciple Baruch." Without further consideration 
the leaders proceeded on the way towards Egypt, 
and the entire multitude had to follow them. 

Jeremiah and Baruch also had to join the rest, 
for they could do nothing in their deserted country. 
Thus they wandered as far as the Egyptian town 
of Taphnai (Tachpanches). They were kindly re- 
ceived by King Hophra, who was sufficiently 
grateful to show hospitality towards those whom 
his persuasions had brought to their present pitch 
of misery. There they met with Judseans who 
had emigrated earlier. Thus, more than a thou- 
sand years after the Exodus, the sons of Jacob had 
returned to Egypt, but under what changed cir- 


cumstances ! At that time they were hearty herds- 
men, narrow in their views it is true, but pure and 
strong, and with hearts filled with hope. Their 
descendants, on the contrary, with torn hearts and 
disturbed minds, were far removed from their for- 
mer habits, yet not sufficiently changed to merge 
themselves into the other races and disappear 
amongst them. Like all emigrants, they lived on 
buoyed up by false hopes, watching every political 
movement which might bring them an opportunity 
to return to their country, and there continue to 
live in their former freedom. 

Meanwhile, Judsea was completely depopulated. 
Nebuchadnezzar was not inclined to treat the oc- 
currences at Mizpah with indifference, involving 
as they did the murder of Gedaliah and the Chal- 
dseans with him. He no doubt saw that it was an 
error to permit a weak Judsean community to exist, 
dependent, as it was, on one man. He, therefore, 
once more sent out the leader of his guards, in 
order to take revenge on the remaining Judseans. 
Nebuzaradan now met with no leader, in fact, 
with no man of importance, only the remain- 
ing agriculturists, gardeners, and owners of vine- 
yards. These, with their wives and children, 
being seven hundred and forty-five persons in all, 
were led to Babylon (582) into captivity. This was 
the third banishment since Jehoiachin. The inno- 
cent, on this occasion also, had to suffer for the 
guilty. There is no historical record as to what 
happened to Ishmael and his fellow-conspirators. 
Gedaliah' s name, on the other hand, remained in 
the memory of the survivors, on account of his 
violent death. The anniversary of his murder 
was kept in Babylon as a fast day. Nebuchad- 
nezzar, from the time of Gedaliah' s death, deter- 
mined to leave no Judsean in the country, and 
Judaea remained depopulated and deserted. A 
later prophet laments over its utter desertion : 


" The holy cities have become a waste, Zion a 
desert, Jerusalem also" (Isaiah Ixiv. 9). 

Thus the punishment which the prophet had 
predicted had been fulfilled. The land of Judah 
could now rest, and celebrate the Sabbatical years 
which had been neglected so long. In the south 
the Idumseans had acquired some tracts of land 
on the borders of Judah (with or without permis- 
sion from the Babylonian king), and had extended 
their possessions as far as the slope (Shephela) 
of the Mediterranean Sea. The exiles therefore 
felt a bitter hatred against the Idumseans, who, in 
addition to plundering Jerusalem, and giving up 
the fugitives, had now seized on the land of their 
heritage. Two prophets, who had escaped from 
the massacre and the desolation, and lived amongst 
the exiles, gave expression to their painful feelings 
— namely Obadiah and an anonymous prophet. 
Both had predicted the dissolution of Edom, as a 
retribution for their conduct to the neighbouring 
tribes and Jerusalem. 

Although the Judseans had been everywhere re- 
ceived with indifference, and their own country had 
become, to a certain extent, the property of the 
enemy, the refugees in Egypt still nursed the hope 
that they would soon return to their fatherland, and 
again inhabit it. The events of the war had kept 
alive this hope, but the venerable prophet Jere- 
miah roused them from their illusions. His heart 
prompted him to speak severely to the Egyptian 
Jud3eans, because they, unchanged by misfortunes, 
had once more devoted themselves in Egypt to 
the worship of the goddess Neith. Added to this 
hankering after strange gods, they yet, with in- 
comprehensible blindness, clung to the name of Je- 
hovah, and swore by Him. Jeremiah, for the last 
time before descending to his grave, desired to 
tell them that owing to their unconquerable folly 
they would never return to their fatherland. He 


therefore summoned the Judseans of Migdol, Taph- 
nai, Memphis, and Sais (?) to a general meeting 
at Taphnai. He still possessed sufficient influence 
to ensure their obeying his summons. He put 
the case before them in plain language. Their 
idolatrous practices, however, were so dear to 
their hearts that they openly boasted of them, and 
told the prophet that they would not relinquish 
them. The women were the most daring : — '' The 
oath which we have taken to offer up sacrifices 
and offerings of wine to the queen of heaven, shall 
be kept as we and our fathers were formerly accus- 
tomed to do in the cities of Judaea and in the 
streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had bread 
in plenty, we were happy, and misfortunes were 
not before us. Since we have left off making sacri- 
fices to the queen of heaven we are in want, and 
die by the sword or through hunger." Jeremiah 
answered their blasphemy: *' Fulfil your oaths; 
all the men of Judah will surely die in the land of 
Egypt ; only a few fugitives from the sword shall 
return from Egypt into the land of Judah. They 
shall learn whose word shall endure — mine or 
yours." As a sign, he predicted that king Hophra, 
on whom they depended, would fall into the hands of 
his enemy, as Zedekiah had fallen into the hands of 
Nebuchadnezzar. The announcement that Hophra 
would meet with a disastrous end was fulfilled. In 
a warlike expedition against Cyrene, his army was 
defeated, and his warriors, jealous of the Carians 
and lonians, whom he favoured, rebelled against 
him. An Egyptian of low caste, Amasis (Amosis), 
placed himself at the head of the rebels, conquered 
Hophra, dethroned him, and caused him to be 
strangled (571-70). This new Pharaoh, who used 
all care in order to ingratiate himself with the 
Egyptians and induce them also to favour the 
Greeks, took no interest in those Judaeans who had 
settled in Egypt. They were neglected, and their 
VOL. I. z 


dream of returning to their fatherland (through the 
help of Egypt) was destroyed. Jeremiah seems to 
have lived to see this change. 

His tender heart must have become yet sadder 
in his old age, as he could not succeed in *' taking 
good from out of the evil." The few Judseans 
who were around him in Egypt remained firm in 
their folly and hardness of heart. But Jeremiah's 
care was not in vain. The seed which he had 
sown grew up plentifully on another ground, care- 
fully tended by his prophetic disciples. His office, 
not only to destroy, but to rebuild and plant anew, 
was carried on in other circles. His disciple Ba- 
ruch, son of Nerlah, appears to have left the exiles 
in Egypt for those in Babylon, after the death of 
the prophet of Anathoth. 



Nebuchadnezzar's treatment of the Exiles— The Exiles obtain grants 
01 land — Evil-Merodach favours Jehoiachin — Number of the 
Judaean Exiles— Ezekiel's activity in the first period of the Exile 
— Moral change of the People — Baruch collects Jeremiah's Pro- 
phecies and compiles the Histories — The Mourners of Zion — 
Proselytes — The Pious and Worldly Parties — The Poetry of the 
Time— Psalms and Book of Job— Nabonad's Persecutions— The 
Martyrs and the Prophets of the Exile — The Babylonian Isaiah 
— Cyrus captures Babylon — The Return under Zerubbabel. 

572—537 B.C. 

Was it by chance, or was it by a special design, 
that the Judseans, who were banished to Babylon, 
were humanely and kindly treated by the con- 
queror Nebuchadnezzar ? Is there actually in the 
history of nations, and in the chain of events, 
such a thing as chance ? Can we affirm positively 
that the condition and state of nations would be 
quite ur?*ike what they now are, if this or that 
circumstance had or had not existed ? Can we 
believe that, whilst the strictest or most binding 
laws govern all things in the kingdom of nature, 
the history of nations should be the result of mere 
caprice ? Nebuchadnezzar's kindly treatment of 
the people of Judah was of great importance to 
the continuous advance of the history of that 
nation. And this kindliness secured the preser- 
vation of the small band of exiles, whose numbers 
were greatly diminished by their successive mis- 
fortunes. Nebuchadnezzar was not like those 
ruthless conquerors of earlier and later days, who 
took pleasure in wanton destruction. The desire 
to establish, and to accomplish great works was 
as dear to his heart as conquest itself. He wished 

2 2 


to make the Chaldsean king-dom great, populous 
and rich. His capital, Babylon, was to surpass the 
now ruined Nineveh. He built a wall round his 
city, which was nine miles in circumference, and he 
added a new town to the old one, on the eastern 
side of the river Euphrates. The conquered people, 
taken forcibly from their own homes, were trans- 
planted into this new city, whilst domiciles were 
given to many Judaean captives in the capital itself, 
those in particular being favoured who had freely 
accepted Nebuchadnezzar's rule. In fact, so 
generous was his treatment that entire families 
and communities from the cities of Judaea and Ben- 
jamin, with their kindred and their slaves, had 
the privilege of remaining together. They were 
free, and their rights and customs were respected. | 
But the families transplanted from Jerusalem — 
such as the princes of the royal house (the sons 
of David), the descendants of Joab, or the family 
of Pahath-Moab, the family of Parosh — were united 
as one whole, under their own government, accord- 
ing to the traditions of their own family. Even 
the slaves of the Temple (the Nethinim) and the f 
slaves of the State, who had followed their masters f- 
into exile, lived grouped together according to I 
their own pleasure. 

Most probably the exiles received land and 
dwelling-places in return for those which they had 
forfeited in their own country. The land divided 
amongst them was cultivated by their servants. ^ 
They not only possessed slaves, but also horses, \ 
mules, camels, and asses. As long as they paid 
taxes for their lands and their possessions, and 
obeyed the laws of the king, they were permitted 
to enjoy their independence. They maintained a 
mutual intercourse of the closest description, which 
was strengthened by the hope (no uncommon one to 
exiles) that their return to their own country would 
surely be brought about by some unforeseen event. 



One other circumstance greatly helped them. In 
the Chaldsean kingdom the Aramaic language pre- 
dominated. It was the twin sister to the Hebrew. 
Thus the exiles learnt it easily, and could soon 
make themselves understood by the inhabitants. 
Even in those days the Judseans possessed a peculiar 
facility for acquiring foreign languages. The posi- 
tion of the Judseans in Babylon after the death of 
Nebuchadnezzar (561) was still more favourable. 

Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor, Evil-Mero- 
dach (Illorodamos) was utterly unlike his father. 
He had neither the courage of a warrior nor a love 
of warfare, and he cared little for the business of 
the State. Judsean youths, from the royal house of 
David, were to be found at his court and of them he 
intended to make eunuchs. How often have these 
guardians of the harem, these servants of their 
master's whims, become in their turn masters of 
their master. The king Evil-Merodach appears 
to have been under the influence of a Judsean 
favourite, who, no doubt, induced him to release the 
captive King Jehoiachin, who had been imprisoned 
for thirty-seven years. The Babylonian monarch 
clothed him in royal garments, invited him to the 
royal table, and supplied his wants most generously. 
When Evil-Merodach held his court with unusual 
pomp, and assembled all the great men of the 
kingdom about him, he raised a throne for Jeho- 
iachin higher than the thrones of the other con- 
quered kings. He wished all the world to know 
that the former king of Judsea was his particular 

This generosity of Evil-Merodach must have 
extended in some degree to Jehoiachin' s former 
subjects, for to many of them greater freedom 
was given, whilst others, who had been kept in 
the strictest captivity on account of their hatred 
to Nebuchadnezzar, were released. In fact, Evil- 
Merodach might have been persuaded to allow 



the exiles to return home, with Jehoiachin as king 
of Judaea, had not his own death intervened. After 
a short reign of two years, he was murdered by 
his brother-in-law, Neriglissar (560). The dream 
in which some Babylonian Judseans had indulged 
(that of returning to their own country) was thus 
dispelled. They were soon to learn the hardships 
of captivity. 

One of the many prophecies of the Hebrew seers 
— namely, that only a small part of the people 
should be saved — had been fulfilled. Insignificant 
indeed was the remnant. Of the four millions of 
souls which the children of Israel numbered in the 
reign of King David, only about a hundred thou- 
sand remained. Millions had fallen victims to the 
sword, famine, and pestilence, or had disappeared 
and been lost in foreign lands. But there was yet 
another side to the prophecies which had to be 
realised. The greater number of the Judsean exiles, 
particularly those belonging to the most distin- 
guished families (in spite of the crushing blow 
which had befallen their nation and their country), 
remained hardened in their obstinacy and wilful 
perversion. They still clung in Babylon to the idol- 
atry which they had followed in their own country. 
It was difficult indeed to root out the passion for 
idolatry from the hearts of the people. The heads 
of the families, or the elders, who laid claim to a 
kind of authority over all the other exiles, were as 
cruel and as extortionate in Babylon as they had 
been in Palestine. Regardless of those beneath 
them, they did not try to better their condition. 
They chose the best and most fruitful portions of 
the lands offered to them, leaving the worst to their 

Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, the first prophet of the 
captivity (born about 620, died about 570) directed 
his prophetic ardour against the folly and obstinacy 
of the exiles. Gifted with a simple, yet fiery and 


impressive eloquence, with a sweet and impassioned 
voice, and fully conscious of the highest ideal of reli- 
gion and morality that the Judseans were capable of 
attaining, he spoke with courage and energy to his 
fellow exiles. At first they treated him roughly 
(actually fettering him upon one occasion), but at 
last he gained their attention, and they would 
gather round him when he prophesied. 

The elders had often entreated him to foretell the 
end of that terrible war whilst it was raging In and 
about Jerusalem, but he had been silent. Why 
should he repeat for the hundredth time that the 
city, the nation, and the Temple were to be inevit- 
ably destroyed ? But when a fugitive announced 
to him that the threatened misfortune had become 
a reality, he broke silence. Ezeklel first ad- 
dressed himself to the unconscientious and heartless 
elders, who were leading a comfortable existence 
in captivity, whilst they were Ill-treating their un- 
fortunate brethren. He began by preaching against 
idolatry ; then he attempted to combat a false idea 
prevailing amongst the exiles. Like the rest of the 
prophets, Ezeklel had foretold with great precision 
the ultimate return of the Judseans to Palestine, and 
also their return to a purer state of morality. 
Many of the captives, however, in consequence of 
their repeated misfortunes, began to despair of this 
return, and looked upon it as a mere dream. They 
said, *^ Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost : 
we are clean cut off" When a nation despairs of 
its future and loses all hope, there is much to 
be apprehended. Ezeklel considered it his most 
important duty to banish this gloom from the hearts 
of his people. In a beautiful simile — that of the dry 
bones restored to life — he placed before them a 
picture of their new birth. 

But there was yet another group of exiles who 
despaired of the restoration of the Judsean people. 
They felt themselves utterly crushed by their sins. 


For centuries the nation had tempted the anger of 
its God by idolatry and other misdeeds. These 
sins could not be passed over, for sin would surely 
lead to its usual result — the death of the sinner. It 
was then that these unfortunate people exclaimed, 
** If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, 
and we pine away in them, how then should we 
live?" But the prophet Ezekiel also fought 
against this gloomy belief, that sin and its punish- 
ment were inseparably connected, and that crime 
must necessarily lead to the death of the sinner. 
In eloquent words, he laid before the people his 
consolatory belief in the efficacy of repentance. 

Often and in varied terms Ezekiel spoke of the 
future deliverance of the exiles, and painted it in 
ideal colours. So deeply was this prophet of the 
Exile impressed with the certainty of a return to 
the old order of things in his own country, that he 
actually devised a plan for the building of a new 
Temple, and for the ordering of divine service 
and of the priesthood. Ezekiel was far from think- 
ing that such a brilliant and glorious future was 
near at hand. The ideas, the feelings, and the 
actions of the exiles with whom he came into 
daily contact were not of a kind to justify such a 
hope. But he and other holy men helped to make 
a small beginning. After the death of Ezekiel and 
Jeremiah an imperceptible change for the better 
commenced. In spite of the kind treatment at 
the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his son, the 
captivity, with its unhappy results, as also the 
influence of prophetic literature, led to a change 
in the disposition of the people. In the very 
midst of the idolatrous abominations of the 
kingdoms of Ephraim and Judah, the flowers 
of a higher morality had blossomed. ** The 
Spirit of God had dwelt amidst the unclean- 
liness of the people." The sublime thoughts of 
the prophets and the psalmists, awakened during 


the course of centuries, had not vanished into 
thin air with speech and song, but had taken root in 
some hearts, and had been reproduced in writing. 
The priests of the sons of Zadok, who had never 
been idolatrous, had brought with them into 
captivity the Law, the Pentateuch ; the disciples 
of the prophets brought the eloquent words of their 
teachers; the Levites had brought the sublime 
Psalms ; the wise men, a treasure of excellent 
sayings ; the learned had preserved the historical 
books. Other treasures had been lost, but one 
treasure remained which could not be stolen, and 
this the exiles had carried Into a strange land. A 
rich, brilliant, and manifold literature passed into 
exile with them, and had become a power that 
taught and ennobled. This literature was the cause 
of some really marvellous consequences. Had not 
the prophecy been realised to the letter, that the 
land of Israel would thrust her people away on 
account of their folly and their crimes, just as she 
had thrust away the Canaanltes ? Had not the 
terrible threats of the prophets come to pass in a 
most fearful manner ? Jeremiah had prophesied 
daily, in words of the clearest import, the destruc- 
tion of the nation, the city, and the Temple. Ezeklel 
had foretold the terrible war and subsequent misery, 
and his words had been fulfilled. In a yet loftier 
strain, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Moses had warned 
the people that exile and destruction would follow 
upon the transgression of the Law. 

But in spite of all their terrible misery, the people 
were not entirely annihilated. A remnant existed, 
small indeed, and homeless, but this remnant had 
found favour in the eyes of the conquerors. They 
felt convinced that even in the land of their 
foes God had not cast them down. He did not 
utterly abhor them, nor destroy them, so as to 
break His covenant with them. A part of the de- 
scendants of the Ten Tribes, scattered for more 


than a century in the Assyrian provinces, and 
looked upon as lost, had asserted their nationality, 
and had approached their suffering brethren with 
cordial affection. They had formerly been sepa- 
rated from them by jealousy and hatred, which had 
been constantly kept alive. The Israelites, who 
had previously dwelt in the capital of Nineveh, had 
without doubt left that doomed city at the destruc- 
tion of the Assyrian Empire, and had fled to 
Babylon, the neighbouring kingdom. Thus the 
words of the prophets were again fulfilled, *' Israel 
and Judah shall dwell together in brotherly love." 
Yet another miracle was performed before the eyes 
of the people. 

Those v/ho were able to read, eagerly studied the 
rescued manuscripts, and anxiously sought instruc- 
tion and consolation in their pages. The prophecies 
and words of Jeremiah were especially studied, 
their pathetic and elegiac tone being peculiarly 
adapted to men living in exile. Jeremiah's manu- 
script, which, as we said before, was probably 
brought by Baruch from Egypt, became a popular 
book. The effect which the living words, fresh 
from the prophet's own lips had failed to produce, 
was accomplished by the written letter. The spirit 
of the prophets passed into the soul of their 
readers, filled them with hope, and prepared them 
for change. 

In order to make the improvement more lasting, 
the spiritual leaders of the people chose a new 
method of instruction. One of them, probably 
Baruch, wrote (about 555) a comprehensive histori- 
cal work for his readers, containing a long series of 
events, from the creation of the world and the com- 
mencement of Israel as a nation, down to the time 
when Jehoiachin was released from his prison and 
loaded with marks of the royal favour. This col- 
lection embraced : the Thorah (Law), the Book of 
Joshua, the History of the Judges, of Samuel, 


Saul and of David. To these Baruch added the 
History of the Kings from Solomon until Jehoia- 
chin, whose downfall he himself had witnessed. 
He gave his own colouring to these events, as he 
was anxious to demonstrate that the decline of the 
kingdom, from the death of Solomon, was owing 
to the apostasy of the king and the people. 

The historical work that Baruch compiled has 
no equal. It is simple, yet rich in matter and 
instructive, unaffected yet artistic ; but above all 
things it is lively and impressive. It was the 
second popular work of the Babylonian exiles, and 
they not only read it with interest, but they fol- 
lowed it, cheered and strengthened. Levitical 
scribes applied themselves to copying it. This 
literature gave new heart to the people, and 
breathed a new spirit into them. What Ezekiel 
had commenced, Jeremiah's disciple, Baruch, con- 

Fired by the study of these writings, the exiles 
began to devote themselves to self-examination. 
This was followed by contrition for their constant 
disobedience and idolatry. Those who were moved 
to penitence by the consciousness of their great 
sins, longed to wash away the bitter past in tears 
of repentance. They acknowledged that all the 
misfortunes that had befallen them were well de- 
served, for ^' the Lord of Hosts thought to do 
unto us," they said, '' according to our ways and 
according to our doings, so hath He dealt with 
us." Many atoned sincerely, four days in the 
year were set apart, at first by a few, and later on 
by a large number of exiles, as days of mourning. 
These occasions were the anniversaries of Nebu- 
chadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem in the tenth 
month, of the conquest of Jerusalem in the fourth 
month, of the destruction of Jerusalem in the fifth 
month, and of Gedaliah's assassination in the 
seventh month. At these times it became cus- 


ternary that the people should fast and lament, 
wear garments of mourning, sit in ashes and 
bow their heads, as if they were crushed with 
sorrow. The observance of these days of mourn- 
ing was the first symptom of the people's re- 
generation, it was a sign of repentance, and was 
the first institution of national anniversaries after 
the captivity. This keen feeling of remorse gave 
birth to a new kind of Psalm, which we may call 
the Penitential Psalm. Those who had forsaken 
their evil ways, in their turn converted others ; 
former sinners showed other evil-doers the way to 
God. The number of the faithful, *' those who 
were eager for God's word," those ''who sought 
after God," thus gradually increased. Natur- 
ally, those who had suffered in exile, formed the 
nucleus of this gathering. They mourned the 
destruction of Jerusalem and its former glory ; 
they were '' contrite in heart," and '* meek in 
spirit." They bore outward signs of mourning, 
and called themselves *' the mourners of Zion." 
With them were associated members of noble fami- 
lies, who held some office or dignity at Court. 
All their thoughts dwelt upon Jerusalem. They 
loved the stones of the Holy City and longed to 
see its ruins, although they were lying in the 
dust. The Levite, who in the name of his com- 
panions in captivity, described so poetically this 
faithful remembrance of Jerusalem, gave utterance 
in the 137th Psalm to the general feelings of ''the 
mourners of Zion." 

During the prayers for deliverance and the 
acknowledgment of their sins, the mourners 
turned their faces towards Jerusalem, as if the 
place where the Temple once stood were still holy, 
and as if a merciful answer would come thence to 
their supplications. As those who were eager for 
God's word would not offer up sacrifices in a strange 
land, they accustomed themselves to look upon 


prayer as a substitute for sacrifice. Three times a 
day, a number of persons forming* a congregation, 
met for this purpose. The House of Prayer took 
the place of the Temple. Probably the penitential 
Psalms and the Psalms of mourning were first 
recited in these Houses of Prayer. 

The burning enthusiasm for Jerusalem, for the 
deliverance from captivity, and for the prophetic 
teaching, was fanned to a yet higher flame by the 
astounding fact that some of the heathen popula- 
tion accepted the doctrines of the exiles, and 
entered into their covenant. The enthusiasm of 
the exiles must have effected this wonderful 
phenomenon. Zeal of a self-sacrificing, self-for- 
getting nature, kindles a like ardour in others, 
and often produces great results. It was compa- 
ratively easy, by placing the Judsean doctrine of one 
sublime, spiritual God in opposition to the childish 
image-worship of the Chaldeans, to make the latter 
appear ridiculous. The Judsean, fully conscious 
of the majesty of his God, could ill restrain his 
derision, or withhold a smile of contempt, at the 
sight of a Babylonian workman carving an image 
out of wood, praying to it for help in adversity, 
and then out of the residue of the material kindling 
a fire, at which he warmed himself, or over which 
he baked his bread and cooked his meat. In 
this way many who heard of the great name of 
the God of Israel, forsook their own false belief and 
associated themselves with a people who professed 
a totally different religion. These newly-won 
proselytes kept the Sabbath after their conver- 
sion, followed the Law and even submitted to the 
rite of circumcision. This, the first conquest at- 
tained by the exiles during the Captivity, exer- 
cised a reflex influence upon the Judaeans. They 
began to love their God and their Law with far 
greater fervour as soon as they discovered that 
heathens had been won to their side. This re- 


generation was effected before two decades had 
elapsed after the death of the prophets Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel. 

The manuscripts, consisting of the Thorah and 
the Prophets, which had become accessible to the 
exiles, were a fountain of rejuvenescence, refresh- 
ing the spirit and softening the heart. Meanwhile 
this new spirit, by which the nation was inspired, 
had to be tried, and tested, and the hour of proba- 
tion was at hand. 

Some of the most distinguished families amongst 
the Judseans adhered to their old perversity, and 
adopted many of the errors of their heathen 
neighbours. The giant capital of Babylon and 
the far-spreading Chaldean empire, had a peculiar 
charm for those **who stood highest" among 
the exiles. They were tempted into imitating 
some of the Chaldean customs, for they saw a 
wide horizon opening before them, which gave them 
an opportunity of developing their powers. Com- 
merce flourished in Babylon, and the products of 
the soil and the beautifully-woven textures of the 
country were eagerly sought after, and were largely 
exported. Thus the merchants of Judah, who had 
already been accustomed to commerce, were able, 
not only to continue their calling, but also to follow 
it more actively. They even undertook journeys 
for the purpose of buying and selling, and began 
to accumulate great riches. In a luxurious country 
wealth produces luxury. The rich Judseans imitated 
the effeminate life of the Babylonians, and even 
began to profess the idolatrous beliefs of Babylon. 
In order to ensure the success of their undertak- 
ings, they actually prepared a table with food for 
the God of Good Fortune (Gad), and filled the 
pitcher of wine for the God of Fate (Meni). So 
completely were the wealthy exiles incorporated 
with the Babylonians, that they entirely forgot 
Judah and Jerusalem, which until lately had been 


the goal of their desires. They could not bear to ! 

think of their return, they wished to be Baby- ] 

lonians, and looked with contempt upon the ^ , 

fanatical lovers of their own land. The two rival j 

parties, which cordially hated one another, were | 

represented on the one hand by men of zeal and ] 
piety, and on the other by men of worldliness 
and self-indulgence. The earnest-minded Judaeans, 

who were full of fervour for their cause, attempted i 

to influence their brethren, whose religious views ] 

and conduct were so widely opposed to their I 
own. This appears in the prophetical writings. 

The last twenty years of the Captivity were ! 

yet more eventful than the times of Hezekiah. \ 
The men of genius, disciples of Jeremiah and 

Ezekiel, who had mastered the old Hebrew \ 

characters, and who had studied the precious | 

national manuscripts, now began to compose in ] 

their turn. An apparently inexhaustible fountain \ 
of poetry flowed once more in a strange land, 

in the very midst of the sufferings of captivity. ; 

The Hebrew language, so lovingly fostered by I 

the exiles in their Aramaic home, was the Ian- i 
guage of their poetic works. Psalms, proverbs, 
and prophecies followed rapidly one after the 
other. An author of that time collected a number 
of proverbs, written at a much earlier date, and 

in the preface that he aftixed to them gave a true i 

picture of the age. He was an acute observer of ^ 

human failings and their consequences, and his i 

work was full of wise maxims. If he could but bring \ 

the worldly-minded to listen to his teaching, then, \ 
he argued, they might be induced to abandon uLg. 
their evil ways. The epitome of this Book of ' . u^ 
Proverbs is that, '' The beginning of wisdom is the (^\^ i 

fear of God, and the fear of God the safeguard of ' 

wisdom. Sin is folly, and occasions the death of .; 

the sinner. Even the prosperity of fools kills I 
them, and their happiness destroys them. But 





what reward is there in store for the pious or for 
the wise who suffer? " 

The compiler of these proverbs could only re- 
peat as the psalmist did in Babylon to the people 
of the Captivity, *' The just will inhabit the land 
again, and the pious shall dwell in it once more." 
But if these words sufficed for the God-fearing 
people and the mourners of Zion, they were not 
sufficient to comfort and satisfy the weak in faith, 
still less could they alter the opinion of those who 
had forgotten the Holy Hill and whose hearts clave 
to Babylon. For it was evident that the sinners 
enjoyed prosperity, and that those who feared God 
and remained true to their ideals were often un- 
happy and unfortunate. This discord in the social 
order of their world demanded a satisfactory ex- 
planation. Doubts arose as to the justice of God, 
and as to the truth of the teachings of the fathers, 
and these misgivings were bitterly felt by the 
Babylonian Judaean community. 
\ A poet undertook the solution of these difficult 
)^ questions, and he created a work of art, one of the 
most perfect ever conceived by a human mind. 
This unknown author composed the book of Job, a 
work which was to bring light into the gloomy 
thoughts of his contemporaries. It was also 
intended to convey instruction, but its method 
was different from that of the Psalms and the 
Proverbs. In a serious and most interesting con- 
versation between a. group of friends, the question 
that divided the Babylonian community and kept 
its members at variance was to be brought to a 
decision. The author did not allow this dialogue 
to be carried on in a dry and pedantic way, 
but he made it singularly attractive in form, 
expression, and poetical diction. The story of 
the patient Job is the groundwork of the dia- 
logue, and it is interesting from beginning to end. 
The arrangement of the poem is artistic through- 


out ; the opinions that the author wishes to pro- 
pagate are allotted to different speakers. Each 
person in the dialogue has a distinct character 
and remains true to it. In this way the dialogue 
is lively, and the thoughts that it contains com- 
mand attention. 

Meanwhile events took place in Babylon and 
the rest of Asia that were ultimately to change 
the fate of the exiles. Neriglissar, the successor 
of the friendly king Evil-Merodach, was dead, 
and had left a minor to succeed him. But this 
young prince was killed by the Babylonian nobles, 
one of whom, named Nabonad, seized the throne 
(555)- A f^w years previous to that date, a Per- 
sian warrior, the hero Cyrus, had dethroned the 
Median king, Astyages, attacked his capital, Ecba- 
tana, and conquered the provinces belonging to 
the king of Media. 

The pious and zealots among the Babylonian 
Judseans did not fail to recognise in these events 
favourable signs for themselves. They appear to 
have entreated Nabonad to free them from cap- 
tivity, and to permit them to return to Judaea. They 
may have confidently relied upon the realisation of 
their wishes, as Merbal, a noble Phoenician exile of 
the royal house, had been permitted by Nabonad to 
return to and rule over his own country, and after 
his death, his brother Hiram was allowed to suc- 
ceed him. It was not improbable, therefore, that 
Nabonad would confer the same favour upon his 
Judsean subjects. Shealtiel, the son of King Jehoi- 
achin may have urged this request upon the usurper, 
and the Judsean favourites at the Babylonian Court 
may, very probably, have warmly espoused his 
cause. But Nabonad was as loth for the exiles 
to leave Babylon as Pharaoh had been of old for the 
Israelites to leave Egypt. This frustration of their 
hope, or rather this delay to their wishes, incited 
a burning hatred of Babylon and its monarch in 

VOL. I. ' aX 


the patriotic exiles. The old wounds burst open 
anew. Babylon was loathed as Edom had been in 
former ages. Such violent hatred could not be 
controlled, but found expression in speech and 
action. The speedy downfall of the hated country, 
teeming as it did with idolatry and immorality, was 
anxiously expected by the Judaeans. They followed 
with interest the warlike progress of the hero Cyrus, 
because it seemed to them that a conflict was immi- 
nent between the kingdom of Media-Persia, and 
Babylon. Cyrus had directed his weapons against 
the Lydian kingdom of Croesus, who had made an 
offensive and defensive alliance with Nabonad of 
Babylon, and Amasis, king of Egypt. These 
monarchs were well aware that they, in their turn, 
would be attacked, and they tried to gain strength 
by alliance. But this only incited the Persian con- 
queror to destroy the independence of Babylon all 
the sooner. Did any of the Judaean favourites at the 
Babylonian Court, or any of the converted heathens 
maintain secret negotiations with Cyrus ? The 
kindness shown later on to the Judaeans by the 
Persian warrior, and the persecution that Nabonad 
carried on against them, implies that this may 
have been the case. 

Nabonad' s persecutions were first directed against 
the patriotic and pious exiles, who were threatened 
with severe punishments which were cruelly put 
into execution. It seemed as if the very kernel of 
the nation was to be proved and tried, as Job had 
been, by suffering. Upon some, heavy labour was 
imposed, from which even the aged were not exempt. 
Others were shut up in dungeons, or were robbed, 
beaten, and insulted. Those who dared to speak 
of their speedy deliverance through Cyrus were 
doomed to a martyr's death. The persecuted bore 
their sufferings patiently, and submitted bravely to 

A contemporary prophet, who witnessed the per- 


secution, and who may have been one of its 
victims, described it in harrowing words. It was 
to him as if the whole nation had suffered ; and he 
speaks of the terrible anguish of those who were 
persecuted, as if they were represented by one 
man : — 

"He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and ac- 
quainted with grief. .... He was oppressed and he was afflicted, 
yet he opened not his mouth ; he is brought as a lamb to the 
slaughter ; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth 
not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment." 
(Isaiah liii. 3, 7.) 

It w^as an age of persecution for the Judaeans in 
Babylon, resembling the persecution of their an- 
cestors in Egypt. But there was this difference : 
in Egypt all Israelites alike underwent slavery 
and enforced labour in the fields and at the 
builder's work, whilst in Babylon prison and 
death awaited only those exiles who refused to ab- 
jure their nationality and their religion. Psalm cii. 
was probably composed at this time, and may be 
considered as the poetic expression of deep grief, 
brightened, however, by the hope of future deli- 
verance. The Judaeans who were threatened with 
imprisonment or with martyrdom, followed the 
victories of Cyrus with great anxiety. Several 
prophets now appeared, who announced, to the 
consolation of the sufferers, the downfall of Babylon 
and the speedy deliverance of the exiles. Two of 
them have left us prophecies that are unsurpassed ; 
indeed, one of those writers developed such a wealth 
of eloquence and poetry, that his works rank 
among the most beautiful in all literature. For 
when Cyrus at length commenced the long-planned 
siege of Babylon, and w^hen the anxious expecta- 
tion of the exiles grew beyond control, a prophet 
arose whose genius found scope in the subject 
that inspired him. 

If the perfection of a work of art consists in the 
A A 2 


fact that the thoughts and the language are In true 
harmony with one another, and that the thought 
itself is well and clearly expressed, then the 
lengthy utterances of that prophet, whom, in 
ignorance of his real name (in fact, as a makeshift), 
we call the second, or the Babylonian Isaiah, form 
an oratorical work of art without parallel. Here 
we find richness of thought, beauty of form, great 
power and touching softness, poetic fervour, and 
true simplicity. Although this prophecy was only 
intended for the time in which it was composed, the 
sympathetic character of the language will ensure 
its appreciation in every age. 

The Babylonian Isaiah not only comforted and 
raised his suffering Judsean brethren, but he endea- 
voured to give them a high aim. At the same 
time, in the presence of all those who had minds to 
comprehend and hearts to feel, whatever their race 
and language might be, he unfolded to thejudeeans 
the solution of an enigma, the correctness of which 
has been recognised by succeeding centuries. He 
showed how a nation could be great but yet small, 
immortal, and yet miserable; a sublime example, 
and at the same time enslaved. Who was this 
prophet, who was both a great thinker and a great 
poet? He allowed nothing to be known about 
himself, and there are no records of his life. The 
collectors of the prophetical writings, finding that 
in eloquence and sublimity his words resembled 
those of the older Isaiah, added them to the pro- 
phecies of the older seer, and included them in the 
same scroll. 

For no one could console the sorrowing Judaean 
community with such sympathy, or encourage them 
with such ardour as the Prophet of the Captivity. 
His words are like balm upon a wound, or like a 
soft breath of air upon a fevered brow. 

" Comfort, comfort ye, my people," he began, " comfort ye, sailh 
your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, 


that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned ; for 
she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." 
(Isaiah xl.) 

The exhausted and despairing community was 
described by this prophet as a mother who had 
been robbed of her children on account of her sins, 
but who was still dear to her husband as the 
beloved of his youth. This deserted one he calls 
"Jerusalem," the emblem of all that was tender to 
his soul. He exclaims to the forlorn mother : 

" Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the 
hand of the Lord the cup of his fury. Thou hast drunken the dregs 
of the cup of trembling and wrung them out. 

" There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath 
brought forth, neither is there any that taketh her by the hand, of all 

the sons that she has brought up O thou afflicted, tossed with 

tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair 
colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires, and I will make thy 
windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders 
of precious stones, and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, 
and great shall be the peace of thy children 

"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and 
ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." 

But where is this consolation to be found ? Not 
in the hope of idle, worldly glory, not in might of 
power, but in an all-embracing salvation. This 
prophet of the Captivity was the first who clearly 
grasped and demonstrated that a creed of general 
salvation was promised through Abraham to future 
generations. The past was to be forgotten and for- 
given ; a new social order was to spring up. It would 
seem as if Heaven and Earth were to be re-created. 
All people from all the ends of the earth would be 
included in this universal salvation, and every knee 
would bend and every tongue would confess to the 
God adored by Israel. It was for this purpose that 
Abraham had been called from a distant land, and 
that his descendants had been destined before their 
birth. God had created the people of Israel to be 
His servant among nations. His messenger to all 
people. His apostle to the rest of the world ; and 


the prophet, in recognising this fact, describes 
Israel as "the ideal nation." 

And is there any mission sublimer than that of 
being the vanguard of the world in the way of 
righteousness and salvation ? Should Israel not 
be proud and elated at being chosen for such a 
duty? The prophet goes on to say how this ideal 
nation should realise its apostolic mission : 

" Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul 
delighteth ; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judg- 
ment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his 
voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, 
and the smoking flax shall he not quench ; he shall bring forth judg- 
ment into truth." (Isaiah xlii.) 

The Law of God was thus to be universally ac- 
knowledged, and the messenger of God was to 
enforce this acknowledgment by his own example 
in the midst of scorn, contempt, and persecution. 
Israel receives her instructions from the prophet of 
the Captivity, who places his words, as it were, in 
the mouth of the nation (Isaiah xlix.). He taught 
that martyrdom, bravely encountered and borne 
with gentle resignation, would ensure the victory 
of the law of righteousness, which was also the law 
of idealised Israel. The leading conception that 
runs through Isaiah's poetical monologue, spoken 
as it were by Israel, is expressed by the prophet in 
a short, but effective verse : — 

" For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all 
peoples." (Isaiah Ivi. 7.) 

The fall of the Babylonian empire, with its ab- 
surd and immoral idolatry, and the deliverance of 
the Judsean community, were the first steps in this 
great work"l)f universal salvation. The fall of 
Babylon seemed indeed so inevitable to the prophet 
that he mentioned it as a certain fact, and not in 
prophetic language. 

He apostrophized Babylon with a song of con- 
tempt ; he derided the astrological science by 


which the Babylonian sages boasted that they could 
raise the veil from the future ; he treated the coarse 
idolatry of the Chaldseans with more bitter irony 
than any of his predecessors had done. He fore- 
told the siege of the city by Cyrus, and declared 
that the Persian conqueror would give freedom to 
the Judsean and Israelite exiles ; that they would 
return to their country and rebuild Jerusalem and 
the Temple. The prophet laid great stress upon 
these predictions, declaring that in their realisation 
the Divine Providence would be manifest. Cyrus 
was but an instrument of God for furthering the 
deliverance of Judah and the salvation of the world. 
In honour of the return of the exiles, all the 
wonders of the flight out of Egypt would be 
renewed, every mountain and hill would be made 
low, springs would be found in the wilderness, and 
the desert would blossom like a rose. The exiles 
would raise Jerusalem from its ruins, and in their 
beloved city would accomplish the aim of their 
existence. But in spite of his reverence for 
Jerusalem, the prophet declared that the Divine 
Being was too great to be pictured as dwelling 
within a temple, however spacious it might be, 
but that each human heart should be as a temple 
dedicated to God. 

" Thus says the Lord : The heaven is my throne, and the earth is 
my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me ; and where 
is the place of my rest. For all these things hath mine hand made, 
saith the Cord ; but to this man will I look, to him that is poor and 
of a contrite spirit and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah Ixvi. i .) 

It is to the exquisite piety of some of the Judseans 
in exile that we attribute the following thought : 

" Behold, the heaven of heavens contain Thee not ; how much 
less a temple." (I. Kings viii. 27.) 

Unfortunately, in spite of the beautiful words of 
the prophet of the Captivity, the greater part of 
the nation declined to accept this apostolic work, 
and remained blind and deaf. Instead of making 


the Law of God beloved, they made it contemp- 
tible, and became contemptible themselves. 

Thus the ideal and the real were at variance 
with one another, and the prophet felt that his 
mission was to preach, to exhort, and to denounce. 
The Judaean community in the Captivity consisted 
of two inimical classes or parties ; on the one side, 
were the more pious and patriotic ; on the other, 
the Worldly and the callous. The former, who had 
become weak and despondent from continued per- 
secution and suffering, dared not come forward at 
this anxious time to oppose their persecutors ; they 
were oppressed by the sorrowful thought that God 
had forsaken His people and had forgotten them, 
whilst their enemies called out mockingly, *'Let 
the Lord be glorified and we will see your joy.'' 
(Isaiah Ixvi. 5.) Now the aim of the great un- 
known prophet was to encourage the one class to 
action, and to move the other to penitence and 
improvement. He announced that God's salvation 
was at hand, and that if those who were worldly and 
egotistical persisted in evil, they would reap the 
punishment of their sins, whilst the pious would be 
rewarded with undimmed happiness. He finally 
described the salvation of the world, and the 
return of all the children of Israel to Judah. 

The king Nabonad and the Babylonian people 
probably felt less anxiety about the result of the 
war between Persia and Babylon than ,did the 
Judeean exiles. For the Juda^ans were alternating 
between the highest hopes and the most despond- 
ing fears ; the continued existence or downfall of 
the Juda^an race hung upon the issue of this war. 
The Babylonians on the contrary looked with a 
certain indifference upon all Cyrus's preparations. 
But one night, when they were dancing and 
carousing at one of their orgies, a large and 
powerful army appeared before the bastions of the 
city. The Babylonians were utterly unprepared 


for resistance, and when day broke, Babylon was ] 

filled with the enemy. Thus, as the prophet ^ 

had foretold, the city of Babylon foil (539), but ^ 

the king and the people escaped their predicted | 

doom. 1 

Cyrus was a humane conqueror, yet in one day ] 
the disgusting idolatry of Babylon was abolished. 

The worship of the victorious Persians and Modes I 

was pure in comparison with that of the Baby- 1 

lonians, and as the former worshipped only two or | 

three gods, they professed a horror at the image- t 
worship of the Babylonians, and probably de- ^ .{ 

stroyed their idols. ^Divtlet^^*'^'' ^^^^^ 

The fall of Babylon cured the Judaean community ^Lp u jd' 
radically and for all tjme of idolatry. For ^^^^ ^^iCit 
exiles saw that those highly honoured images wereV^-^ T* 
now lying in the dust, that Bel was on his knees, 

that Nebo was humbled, and that Merodach had 1 

fallen. The destruction of Babylon completed the \ 

change in the Judaean people, and their hard hearts ) 

became softened. From that time all clung ] 

to their God, even the worldly-minded and the ' 
sinners. For had they not learned how His word, 

spoken by the mouth of His prophets, had been ] 

fulfilled ? The sufferers and the mourners of Zion ] 

were no longer objects of hatred and contempt, ^ 

but were on the contrary treated with veneration, : 
and placed at the head of the community. 

The most pious and patriotic amongst their I 

number were busily engaged, after the conquest of : 

Babylon, in hastening the deliverance and return '{ 

of the exiles. Cyrus had taken possession of the \ 

throne and of the palace, and his subjects swore | 

allegiance to him as king of Babylon and sue- \ 

cessor of the previous monarch. The first year of ; 

his reign was B.C. 538. Servants of the palace, ; 

who had crouched and trembled before Nabo- ^ 

nad, now became servants of Cyrus. Amongst ^ 

them were also eunuchs of the royal family of ] 


Judaea, who had remained true to their faith. They, 
as well as some converted heathens, who had de- 
voted themselves to the Judsean community, tried 
to obtain from Cyrus the freedom of their compa- 
nions. In this they were probably aided by Zerub- 
babel, the grandson of King Jehoiachin. Those 
Judaeans who had been imprisoned on account of 
the devotion with which they clung to their faith, 
were set free at once. But Cyrus went still further, 
for he permitted the Judseans to return to their 
own country, rebuild Jerusalem, and restore the 
Temple. When Cyrus occupied Babylon, all the 
provinces conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, from the 
Mediterranean to the confines of Egypt, fell beneath 
his sway. Judaea, therefore, belonged without 
further resistance to the Persian kingdom. But 
what reasons could have been given to the mighty 
conqueror for the bold request that he should 
allow the Judaeans to have an independent govern- 
ment ? And what could have induced Cyrus to grant 
this request so generously ? Was it the gratification 
of a momentary caprice, or indifference to a strip of 
land, of which probably he did not even know the 
name, and of whose historical importance he was 
certainly ignorant ? Or had one of the Judaean 
eunuchs, as is mentioned later, described to the 
Persian conqueror how a Judaean prophet had 
foretold his victories, and had prophesied that he 
would let a banished people return to their home ? 
Or was he so much impressed by the faith of the 
Judaeans (which resembled his own), that he was 
induced to favour the believers in that faith? The 
ultimate reason for his decision is unknown, but 
Cyrus not only granted permission to the Judaeans 
to return to their country, but he restored to the 
exiles the sacred vessels belonging to the Temple, 
the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had seized and 
placed as trophies of victory in the temple of Bel. 
As soon as the permission for the return had 


been granted, a group of men appeared to organise 
the band of exiles. The leadership was entrusted 
to two men of about the same age, and of distin- 
guished lineage, Zerubbabel, called in Babylon 
Sheshbazzar, the son of Shealtiel, and grandson of 
king Jehoiachin, therefore a scion of David's house, 
and Joshua, the son of Jehozedek, and grandson of 
the last high priest Seraiah. They were joined by 
ten men, so that they formed a company of twelve, 
in order to represent in some way the twelve tribes. 
Cyrus dignified Zerubbabel by making him gover- 
nor or regent (Pechah) of the province which the 
exiles were to re-occupy, the appointment being in 
reality a stepping-stone to royal honours. All the 
Judseans who were to return to their own country 
presented themselves before those leaders. 

Compared with those who had once gone out 
of Egypt, the number of those who now returned 
was very small, but still there were more than 
could have been expected, 42,360 men, women 
and children, counting from the age of twelve. 
The greater number belonged to the two tribes 
of Judah and Benjamin; there were a few Aaron- 
ites and Levites. Besides these there were some, 
though not many, from the other tribes and from 
other nations, who acknowledged the God of Israel 
(Gerim, Proselytes), who joined the march. 

The happiness of those who were preparing for 
the exodus from Babylon and the return to the 
Holy Land was overpowering. It was like a sweet 
dream to be permitted to tread the soil of their 
own country, and to rebuild and restore the sanc- 
tuary. The event caused a great sensation 
amongst other nations ; it was discussed, and con- 
sidered as a miracle that the God of Israel had 
wrought on behalf of His people. A poem faith- 
fully reproduces the mood that inspired the exiles : 

"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like 
them that dream, 


" Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with 
singing : then said they among the nations, The Lord hath done 
great things for them. 

" The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." 
(Ps. cxxvi.) 

As the patriots were preparing to make use 
of their freedom to return to Jerusalem, one of 
their poets, in Psalm xxiv., bade them reflect 
whether they were worthy of this boon. For only 
the righteous and those who feared the Lord were 
to assemble upon God's ground. But who would 
dare to take on himself the right to pronounce 
judgment ? 



The Journey to Jerusalem — The Samaritans — Commencement of the 
Rebuilding of the Temple — Interruption of the Work — Darius 
— Haggai and Zechariah — Completion of the Temple — Contest 
between Zerubbabel and Joshua — Intermarriage with Heathens 
— The Judaeans in Babylon — Ezra visits Jerusalem — Dissolution 
of the Heathen Marriages — The Book of Ruth — Attacks by 
Sanballat — Nehemiah — His arrival in Jerusalem — Fortification 
of the Capital— Sanballat's Intrigues against Nehemiah — En- 
slavement of the Poor — Nehemiah's Protest — Repopulatioit of 
the Capital— The Genealogies — The Reading of the Law — The 
Feast of Tabernacles — The Great Assembly — The Consecration 
— Departure of Nehemiah — Action of Eliashib — Withholding 
the Tithes — Malachi, the Last of the Prophets — Nehemiah's 
Second Visit to Jerusalem— His measures. 

537—420 B.C. 

After forty-nine years of exile, in the very self- 
same month (Nisan) in which their ancestors had 
departed from Egypt some eight or nine centuries 
before, the Judseans now left the land of Babylon, 
It was the spring of the year (537) when they 
marched forth to take possession of their dearly- 
beloved home, of the much longed-for Jerusalem. 
It was a significant moment, carrying centuries 
within it. Not like trembling slaves, just freed 
from their chains, did they go forth, but full of 
gladness, their hearts beating high with lofty 
hopes and swelling with enthusiasm. Singers, with 
stringed instruments and cymbals, accompanied 
them on their way, and they uttered new songs of 
praise, beginning and ending with these words : — 

" Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy 
endureth for ever." 

Those Jud^ans who remained behind in Babylon 


(of whom there were many), the rich merchants, 
and landed proprietors, evinced their sympathy for 
their brethren, by giving them an escort on their 
march, and by presenting them with magnificent 
gifts to spend upon the new buildings in their own 
country. Cyrus sent an escort of a thousand 
mounted soldiers to defend the Judseans from the 
attacks of warlike tribes upon the way, and also 
to ensure their being able to take possession of 
Judaea. The prophecy but lately spoken was now 
to be realised: — 

" In joy shall ye depart, and in peace shall ye be taken home." 
(Isaiah Iv. 12.) 

In peace and in safety the travellers completed 
the six hundred miles from Babylon to Judaea, pro- 
tected by the accompanying Persian troop. The 
exodus from Babylon, unlike the one from Egypt, 
has left no reminiscences, and it seems impossible 
even to ascertain the names of the various halting- 

"God led them along a straight, unexpected path, and brought 
them to the place of their longing." (Psalm cvii. 7.) 

As the travellers approached the land of their 
passionate desire, after a march of four or five 
months, their joy became overpowering. The pro- 
phecies that had been uttered, the hopes they had 
cherished, the enthusiasm they had indulged in, 
were realized. Meanwhile their happiness was not 
undimmed. The Holy City, the chief object of 
their longing, was desolate. A great part of the 
country was inhabited by strangers ; in the north 
were the Samaritans, or Cuthceans, in the south 
the Idumseans. But these races were soon obliged 
to give place to the descendants of Judah, who, 
with the tribe of Benjamin, returned to their ancient 
dwelling-places. The beginning of the new Juda^an 
Commonwealth was indeed humble and small. The 
people could not occupy the whole land that be- 



longed to them in former days. A population of 
40,000 was not numerous enough to cultivate a 
large territory or to rebuild the towns. The 
colony was thus compelled to group itself round 
the capital at Jerusalem. This concentration of 
forces had its advantages, for the whole popula- 
tion being thus brought near to the capital, could 
take part in all its affairs. But, though the ex- 
tremely confined territory of the new colony, and 
the small numbers of the community were calcu- 
lated to depress the lofty hopes that their prophets 
in Babylon had awakened in the hearts of the re- 
turned exiles, and fill them with gloom, unexpected 
circumstances arose to renew their energies for the 
remodelling of the Commonwealth. From many 
countries, from east, west, south, and north, from 
Egypt, Phoenicia, and even from the Greek coast 
and islands, whither they had gone of their own 
free will or had been sold as slaves, Judsean 
exiles streamed back to crowd like children 
around their resuscitated mother, Jerusalem. Not 
only were they joined by many of their own 
race, but also by large numbers of strangers, 
the great and small, illustrious and obscure, who 
collected round them. They were received with 
rejoicing, for they all acknowledged the God of 
Israel, and were ready to follow His laws, and the 
new proselytes gave a certain strength or feeling 
of self-confidence to the young community. 

At the approach of the seventh month, in 
which, according to law and custom, various 
festivals occur, the elders of the families among 
all classes in Jerusalem assembled, and marching 
under the command of their two leaders, the 
governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua, 
proceeded to perform the first act under the new 
conditions — they erected an altar of stone. This 
altar was to be the commencement of the Temple. 

Meanwhile, the leaders commenced preparations 


for the erection of this great and important edifice, 
the building of which should be a centre of attrac- 
tion to the whole community. The rich gifts which 
they had brought with them enabled them to hire 
labourers and also artisans from Babylon, and, as in 
the days of King Solomon, cedar trees were pro- 
cured from Lebanon. Stone was brought from the 
mountains for the foundation of the Sanctuary. Not 
only Zerubbabel and Joshua but also the heads of 
families, and a large number of the people were to 
be present at the commencement of the building, 
when a solemn ceremony was performed. Once 
more the Aaronites appeared in their priestly gar- 
ments, sounding their trumpets ; the Levites of the 
house of Asaph chanted songs of praise, declaring 
God's mercy to be everlasting; and the people 
burst forth into a loud transport of joy. But this 
day of gladness was somewhat marred by those 
who regretted that the new Temple was smaller and 
less magnificent than the old one. 

Jerusalem, so long mourned and wept over, 
began to rise from her ruins. The joyful enthu- 
siasm occasioned by the re-building of the city 
was, however, soon to be disturbed ; the honey- 
moon of the young Commonwealth waned rapidly, 
and sorrow suddenly appeared in her midst. Close 
to the boundaries of Judsea lived the mixed tribes 
of Samaritans or Cutha^ans. These people had 
partly accepted the doctrines taught them by an 
Israelite priest at Bethel, but they had still retained 
many of their own idolatrous practices. Quite un- 
expectedly, some of the Samaritan chiefs came to 
Jerusalem, with the request that they might be al- 
lowed to help in rebuilding the Temple, and also be 
received into the Judaean community. This seemed 
so important a point to the Juda3ans, that they called 
a council to discuss the subject. The decision was 
against the Samaritans. Zerubbabel informed the 
Samaritan chiefs that their people would not, could 


not be permitted to join in the re-bullding of the 
Temple. But this decision produced disturbing- 
consequences. From that day the Samaritans 
began to persecute the Judaean community with 
revengeful hatred. They developed a spirit of 
enmity which seemed to show that they were more 
anxious to do harm to the Judseans and to hinder 
the rebuilding of the Temple than to take part in 
the divine service in Jerusalem. At one time they 
tried to make the Judaeans callous as to the building 
of the Temple, and at another time they bribed 
Persian officials to disturb the workmen; so that 
the work was interrupted for fully fifteen years. 
In fact, the unfortunate position of the Jews much 
resembled that of the Israelites after their first 
invasion of Canaan. The neighbouring tribes en- 
vied them their strip of land, and harassed them 
with hostilities. They were powerless to defend 
themselves, for they lacked the means for carrying 
on war. 

Under these circumstances the members of the 
community gave the first thought to themselves, 
and not to the general welfare. The richest and 
most distinguished persons built large and splendid 
houses out of the building materials designed for 
the Temple. Bad harvests, drought, and hail disap- 
pointed the hopes of the agriculturists. Much was 
sown, and little reaped; there was hardly sufficient 
to feed the people, and not enough to clothe them, 
and whoever earned money placed it in a purse full 
of holes. Still worse was the moral deterioration 
caused by this physical distress. The people did 
not actually relapse into idolatry, they were radi- 
cally cured of that evil ; but selfishness took the 
upper hand, and the members of the community 
often treated one another most harshly. This 
state of things contrasted sadly with the new-born 
hopes of the people, and damped the courage of 
some of the nobler spirits. 



The death of Cambyses (521) and the succession 
of Darius, the third Persian king (521-485), led, 
meanwhile, to a favourable change for Judaea. 
Darius, differing from his predecessor, was, like 
Cyrus, a mild and generous ruler. A strange 
tradition tells us that Zerubbabel went to Persia 
and there found favour in the eyes of Darius on 
account of his wisdom. As a proof of his favour, 
Darius sent Zerubbabel back to Jerusalem with 
permission to re-build the temple at the king's 
expense. This was not so easy to accomplish. 
Zerubbabel and Joshua had probably agreed to 
proceed with the building after all disturbances 
had ended. But the people, at least the heads of 
families exclaimed: "The time has not yet come 
to rebuild the Temple." It required the enthusi- 
asm of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to set 
the v/ork in motion. These prophets harangued 
the people frequently during several successive 
months (from Elul to Kislev 520), at the same 
time prophesying future events. At last they 
roused the people to recommence their work. In 
four years (519-516) the building was finished and 
the Sanctuary was consecrated, with immense joy 
and satisfaction, just before the Feast of Passover. 

Seventy years had passed since the destruction 
of the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar, 
when the entire nation assembled at Jerusalem for 
the consecration of the second Temple, henceforth 
to be the very centre of the community. Three 
weeks later the Feast of Passover was celebrated by 
the Israelites themselves, as well as by those who 
had conscientiously joined the faith. Meanwhile, 
although this young community was imbued with 
the spirit of the Law and of the prophets, and, 
although the people anxiously strove for unity, 
there lurked amongst them a discordant element, 
difficult to suppress and liable to kindle hostilities. 
The people had two leaders : Zerubbabel, of the 


royal house of David, and Joshua, the high priest, 
of Aaronite descent. One was at the head of the 
secular, the other of the spiritual power. It was 
impossible to prevent the jurisdiction of the 
one power from occasionally overlapping that 
of the other. Zerubbabel could certainly boast 
of the people's allegiance to the royal house of 
David, and he seemed to represent its former 
glories. The prophet Haggai had called him the 
chosen favourite of God, His precious Signet-ring ; 
but this in itself was a cause of suspicion. The 
enemies of the Judaeans had some reason in their 
complaints against the community, in so far 
that they had nourished thoughts of electing as 
Jcing this descendant of David. On the other 
hand, the prophet Zechariah had maintained that 
the high priest Joshua should wear the crown, 
ascend the throne, and effect the realisation of the 
Messianic hopes. In this way he had given the 
preference to the descendants of the priesthood. 
Peace could only be restored by the withdrawal of 
one of the two leaders : their joint rule could not 
fail to be the occasion of excitement and irritation. 
A choice had to be made between the two, and 
Zerubbabel was obliged to give way, the high 
priest being more necessary than the king's son. 
It is probable that Zerubbabel left Jerusalem and 
returned to Babylon, and thus the house of David 
retreated into the background. 

After Zerubbabel' s withdrawal, the leadership of 
the community was given into the hands of the 
high priest Joshua, and after his death into those of 
his son Jehoiakim. Was this change satisfactory? 
No evil is reported of the first two high priests, 
but also nothing particularly favourable which could 
warrant their position as the strength and head of 
the community. The supreme command over the 
people, does not seem to have been given to the 
high priest, but to have been vested in a governor 

B B2 


or administrator (Pechah) appointed in Judaea, 
either by the Persian Kings or by the satraps of 
Syria and Phoenicia. These officials do not appear 
to have lived in Jerusalem, but to have visited the 
city from time to time. On public occasions the 
governor, seated on a throne, heard and decided 
disputes, and restored peace. Occasionally how- 
ever, he caused dissensions and aggravated bad 
feelings, in order to raise complaints against the 
Judseans. For as some Judseans nourished the 
hope, held out by the prophets, that Judah might 
yet become a mighty power, to whom kings and 
nations would be subordinate, so occasionally these 
judges were able to raise a suspicion that the 
people were plotting a defection from Persia. 
Such accusations commenced directly after the 
death of Darius, in the reign of his successor, 
Xerxes (Ahasuerus, 485-464). The enemies of the 
Judaeans, particularly the Samaritans, did not fail 
to draw the governor's attention to those pernicious 
designs, and thus caused unfavourable decrees to 
be issued against them at Court. Added to this, 
the governors tried to oppress the landowners by 
excessive demands. The position of the Judseans 
in their own country, to which they had looked 
forward with such buoyant hope, grew worse and 
worse in the second and third generations. 

In order to free themselves, on the one side at 
least, from these constant troubles, the most distin- 
guished Judaean families took a step that led in the 
end to unfortunate complications. They approached 
the neighbouring peoples, or received the advances 
of the latter in too friendly a spirit, and as a 
proof of the sincerity of their feelings, they began 
to form connections by marriage. As in the days 
when the Israelites first occupied the land of 
Canaan (in the time of the Judges), the necessity 
for friendly intercourse with neighbouring tribes 
led to mixed marriages ; so during the second 


occupation of Palestine by the Israelites, a similar 
necessity led to similar results. But the circum- 
stances differed in so far that, whereas the Ca- 
naanites, Hittites, and other original owners of the 
soil, practised abominable idolatry and infected the 
Israelites with their criminal customs, the neigh- 
bouring tribes of the Judsean commonwealth, par- 
ticularly the Samaritans, had given up idolatry, 
and were longing earnestly and truly to take part 
in the divine service at Jerusalem. They were, 
in fact, proselytes to the religion of Judaea ; and 
were they always to be sternly repulsed ? The 
principal Judsean families determined to admit 
the foreigners into the community, and the high 
priest, of that time, either Jehoiakim or his son 
Eliashib was ready to carry these wishes into 
effect. Marriages were therefore contracted with 
the Samaritans and other neighbouring people, 
and even some members of the family of the 
high priests formed such connections. 

The leader of the Samaritans at that time was 
Sanballat, a man of undaunted strength of will 
and action, clever, cunning, audacious and per- 
severing. He was an honest proselyte, who be- 
lieved in the God of Israel, and desired to wor- 
ship in His Temple; but he determined as it 
were, to storm the kingdom of Heaven. If he were 
not allowed a part in it voluntarily, he would 
seize it by force or by cunning. Not only the 
Samaritans, but also the Moabites and the Am- 
monites, were among the people now allied to the 
Judseans by marriage. 

Tobiah, the leader of the Ammonites was doubly 
related to Judsean families. He had married a 
daughter of the noble family of Arach, and a 
distinguished man, Meshullam, the son of Bere- 
chiah, had made the daughter of Tobiah his wife. 
Mixed marriages with Ammonites and Moabites 
were stringently prohibited by the Law, until 


the tenth generation had elapsed after these con- 

The leaders of the Judsean community, the high 
priest and others, who surely Would have dreaded 
openly violating the law, doubtless eased their con- 
sciences by some mild interpretation of its tenets. 
But not all were so pliable. A small number of 
some of the noblest families had kept themselves 
pure from mixed marriages, which they deplored as 
an infraction of the Law and as a cause of deteriora- 
tion to the Judsean race. The singers and scribes, 
and the custodians of the old and highly honoured 
manuscripts, were most opposed to mixed mar- 
riages. They may have raised their voices against 
the weakness of their co-religionists, against this 
mingling with the stranger, but as they were in the 
minority their voices would not be heeded. But 
when a leading authority appeared in Jerusalem 
from the land of exile, then the minority cried out 
loudly against what had taken place, and a 
complete reaction followed, from which disagree- 
able complications necessarily ensued. 

It is but rarely the case that new historical forma- 
tions are made with such suddenness that the con- 
temporary witnesses of the change are themselves 
struck by it, and are reminded at every turn that 
old things have passed away, and that a new 
order has arisen. In general the people who 
live during an important crisis of history are un- 
aware of the changes occurring in their opi- 
nions, in their customs, and even in their lan- 
guage. Such a change, imperceptible at first, but 
complete and remarkable in its results, had come 
over the Judzeans during the first half of the fifth 
century. This change did not proceed from the 
community of Judaea, but from those who remained 
in the land of exile ; it soon, however, penetrated 
to the mother-country, where it had important and 
lasting results. 

In Babylon, the land of the captivity, a con- 


siderable number of the descendants of the exiles 
had remained behind, either from attachment to 
their property, or from various other reasons. But 
they had been touched by the unbounded enthu- 
siasm of their co-religionists, and they had shown 
their sympathy by rich gifts and fervent wishes. 
The Babylonian Judaeans laid great importance 
upon maintaining their own characteristics, as well 
as their own nationality. They kept themselves apart 
from all their neighbours, intermarried with one 
another, and held the traditional Law to be the 
rule of life. They followed the behests of the Law 
strictly, in order to have some firm tie to lay hold 
on, a bond that would of itself unite them to all 
the members of their community. They could not 
offer sacrifices, or even keep the observances con- 
nected with the precincts of the Temple. But 
all the more scrupulously did they abide by those 
customs that were independent of the sanctuary, 
such as the sabbath, circumcision, and the dietary 
laws. Without doubt they had houses of prayer, 
where they assembled at stated times. Here they 
made use of the Hebrew tongue to such an extent 
that it could not become a strange language to 
them, but was used in their common speech. They 
obtained a correct knowledge of the language 
from the manuscripts which they had brought with 
them, and which they made the object of careful 
study. They gave particular heed to a portion 
of these manuscripts which had been somewhat 
neglected, or had only been read at stated 
times, namely the Pentateuch, with its code of 
laws and observances. During the time ot 
the captivity, the writings of the prophets had 
been chiefly read, because they possessed the 

I greater power of consolation. But as soon as it 
was necessary to rouse the feelings and to 
strengthen the opinions of the people, and to give a 


Book of the Law was sought out and consulted. 
The Thorah, or Law, so long neglected in its own 
country, received due honour and attention on 
a foreign soil. For instance, the sabbath had 
been kept far less strictly in Jerusalem than in 
the Babylonian-Persian community. This ardour 
for the exact carrying out of the Law and its ob- 
servances found an embodiment in Ezra, who was 
the cause of a momentous change in the history 
of the nation, and who endowed it with a new 
character. He did not stand alone, but found 
others who thought as he did. 

This man, who was the creator of a new religious 
and social order of things, seemed specially en- 
titled to kindle an unwonted enthusiasm for the 
Thorah, for he was a descendant of high priests. 
It was his ancestor Hilkiah who found the book of 
Deuteronomy in the Temple, and who, by giving it 
himself to King Josiah, brought about great 
changes. He was also the great-grandson of that 
high priest, Seraiah, who was slain by the command 
of Nebuchadnezzar, and whose sons carried the 
Book of the Law to Babylon. Ezra had, therefore, 
the right, as well as the opportunity, of occupying 
himself with the study of this book. But he gave it 
more attention than either his ancestors or his rela- 
tives had done. After he had read and studied it 
with care, he determined that it should not remain 
a mere dead letter, but that it should be revived in 
the daily life of the people. He began by applying 
it to himself, carefully obeying the laws regarding 
dress, diet, and particularly those bearing upon the 
festivals. Then he assumed the post of teacher to 
his brethren ; he laid the Law so clearly before 
them that they were bound to understand it, and 
he urged them to follow it in every detail. The 
Law was to him an emanation of the Deity, mani- 
fested to Israel by Moses ; therefore he placed it 
higher, far higher, than the writings of the other 

CH.XIX. EZRA. 377 

prophets, for the first prophet and law-giver was 
the greatest of all. Impressed by the Divine in- 
spiration of the Law of Moses, and glowing with 
zeal to make it generally obeyed, he found no diffi- 
culty in infusing his own belief and his own zeal 
into the Judseans of Babylon and Persia. He soon 
acquired an honoured position amongst them, his 
word gained authority, and he was more eagerly 
listened to than the prophets themselves. Ezra had 
no doubt that the Law was but negligently followed 
in Judaea, and he thought that by visiting that 
country he might awaken his fellow-believers to the 
perception of its true worth. Or he may have been 
guided by some instinctive feeling that compelled 
him to go to Jerusalem, where he could fulfil all his 
religious duties in the Temple itself. As soon as 
he had determined upon the journey, he invited 
those members of his faith who might be willing 
to join him. The number that responded was a 
considerable one, including over i,6oo men, be- 
sides w^omen and children, of distinguished families, 
who had remained in the land of captivity, and 
amongst them was a great-grandson of Zerubbabel, 
a descendant of the house of David. Those 
who could not take part in the exodus gave Ezra 
rich gifts in gold, silver, and precious vessels for 
the Temple. It is extraordinary that King Arta- 
xerxes (Longimanus) should also have sent presents 
for the sanctuary in Jerusalem, and that many Per- 
sian nobles should have followed his example. It 
is a fact that at this time the God of Israel had 
many earnest worshippers amongst the Persians and 
other nations, and that from sunrise to sunset His 
name was glorified and reverenced among the 
people. Not only did Artaxerxes grant Ezra 
permission to journey with his brethren to Jeru- 
salem, but he also gave him letters to the various 
satraps of the countries through which he passed, 
and to the governor of Palestine. He would also 


have sent an escort to protect the travellers from 
hostile tribes had Ezra wished it. But the latter 
refused, because he and his companions were as- 
sured that the God to whom they prayed would 
listen to them and would protect them. 

The arrival of Ezra and his large suite must 
have caused much surprise in Jerusalem (459-458). 
They came provided with letters from the king, 
laden with gifts, and imbued with enthusiastic 
feelings. Without doubt, Ezra's name as a writer 
and lawgiver had already penetrated as far as 
Judaea, and he was received with every mark of 
consideration. No sooner had he undertaken the 
office of teacher than the more serious-minded of 
the community brought their complaints before him, 
for they strongly disapproved of the marriages that 
their countrymen had contracted with the neigh- 
bouring tribes. Ezra was dismayed when he heard 
of these occurrences. Those whose duty it was to 
intercede for their brethren, in the Temple, had 
connected themselves with the heathen, to the dis- 
grace of the Law. Ezra held this to be a terrible 
sin. For the Judsean or Israelite race was in 
his eyes a holy one, and suffered desecration by 
mingling with foreign tribes, even though they had 
abjured idolatry. According to Ezra's reading of 
the Law, heathens who had accepted the Law might 
enter into the community, but were not considered 
as an integral part of it, being regarded as a group 
apart. The Gibeonites, in former days the slaves of 
the Temple, who had accepted the Israelite doctrines 
for more than a thousand years, were still kept dis- 
tinct, and were not permitted to intermarry with the 
Israelites; and in Ezra's opinion, the new proselytes 
from the heathen nations should be treated in a 
similar manner. The intercourse with them ought 
not to be of an intimate character, Ezra's opinion 
being based, not on ancestral pride, but on re- 
ligious and social grounds. Some dim present!- 


ment warned him that the reception of proselytes 
or half-proselytes into the community — of those in 
fact, who had not been tried and proved in the 
furnace of suffering, as the seed of Abraham 
had been — would give undue preponderance to 
the foreign element, and would destroy all the 
moral and religious advantages which the Ju- 
daeans had acquired. This fear seized upon his 
whole soul ; he rent his clothes, tore the hair from 
his head and beard, and sat fasting in anguish 
at what he considered to be a dangerous and 
terrible sin. Then he entered the court of the 
Temple, and throwing himself upon his knees, he 
confessed with shame that the people had not im- 
proved by their bitter experiences, but that they had 
relapsed into their former evil ways. This avowal 
of his poignant guilt, expressed with sobs and 
tears, attracted all those who were standing near 
him — men, women and children. They burst into 
passionate weeping, as if their tears could oblite- 
rate the dark pages in their history. Touched 
by the sight of such woe, one of the community, 
Shecaniah, made this important suggestion: ^*Let 
us make a covenant with our God to put 
away all the wives, and such as are born of 
them, according to the counsel of my lord." 
The proposal impressed Ezra favourably, he rose 
and urged the heads of the families, who were 
present on that occasion, to swear in the Sanc- 
tuary of their God that they would repudiate 
their foreign wives and their children. That 
moment decided the fate of the Judsean people. 
Ezra, and those who thought as he did, raised 
a wall of separation between the Judaeans and 
the rest of the world. But this exclusiveness was 
not strictly in accordance with the letter of the 
Law, for Ezra himself, with all his knowledge, 
was not able to point out any passage in the 
Thorah, implying that mixed marriages were 


forbidden when contracted with those who acknow- 
ledged the God of Israel. 

Such members of the community as, in a mo- 
ment of enthusiasm, had taken this vow, were now 
obliged to keep it. With bleeding hearts they sepa- 
rated themselves from their wives (the daughters 
of neighbouring tribes) and repudiated their own 
children. The sons and relations of the high 
priest were forced to set an example to the rest. 
The elders of the people, who were the most 
ardent disciples of the Law, formed a kind of 
senate. They issued a proclamation throughout 
Judah, commanding all who had been guilty of 
contracting mixed marriages, to appear within 
three days in Jerusalem, on pain of excommuni- 
cation. A special court of enquiry was instituted 
for this one question. Ezra himself selected the 
members who were to make the needful researches 
to discover whether the Judaeans had really repu- 
diated their wives. So thoroughly was the work 
of this court of enquiry carried out, that all those 
who were living in the towns of Judaea separated 
themselves from their wives and children, as the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem had done. Still there 
were some who, influenced by family feelings, made 
some show of resistance. 

The severity with which this separation from 
all neighbouring tribes, Samaritans and others, 
had been effected, led naturally to grave results. 
The wall of separation that Ezra and his party 
had raised against those who were truly anxious 
to belong to the community, hurt them deeply. 
They were to be separated for ever from the 
Deity they had chosen, and excluded from the 
Sanctuary in Jerusalem to which they had belonged. 
A letter of separation sent to each one of them 
changed their friendly relations towards the Ju- 
daeans to one of enmity. Hatred which arises from 
despised affection is always the bitterest. The 


grief of the wives deserted by their husbands, and 
the sight of children disowned by their fathers, 
could not fail to awaken and to increase the feel- 
ings of anger in those who were closely related 
to them. Sanballat and Tobiah, men of original 
and energetic minds, were at the head of the party 
excluded from the community. Tobiah, the Am- 
monite, was related to several Judaean families. 
They had both accepted the Judaean teaching, and 
now they were both to be repulsed. Henceforth 
they assumed a hostile position towards Judaea, 
but insisted upon retaining their righcs ; that is 
to say, the privilege of worshipping in the Temple. 
At first they probably took steps to maintain their 
peaceful intercourse with the Judseans, and urged 
them to revoke their cruel decision. In Jerusalem, 
as well as in the provinces, there was a party which, 
no doubt, strongly disapproved of Ezra's severe ver- 
dict. Even his adherents may have hesitated about 
the propriety of dissolving marriage with women 
who had, at all events outwardly, accepted the Law. 
Was Ezra's severity justifiable? Did not the his- 
torical records contain many instances of Israelites 
having married foreign wives ? Such questions 
must have been constantly put at that time. 

A charming literary production, written probably 
at that date, reproduces the opinions of the gentler 
members of the community. The poetical author 
of the Book of Ruth apparently relates a simple 
idyllic story of a distinguished family of Bethlehem 
migrating to Moab, where the two sons married 
Moabite wives ; but he touches at the same time 
upon one of the burning questions of the day. 
Ruth, the Moabitess, is described as saying to 
her mother-in-law, '' Intreat me not to leave thee, 
or to return from following after thee : for whither 
thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest, I 
will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and 
thy God my God : where thou diest will I die, and 


there will I be buried ; the Lord do so to me, and : 

more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'' | 
And the Moabitess kept her word faithfully. Upon 

her marriage with Boaz, her Judsean husband, the I 

people exclaim : '' The Lord make the woman that ; 
is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, 

which two did build the house of Israel." The ; 

son born to Ruth was the ancestor of David, the \ 

great king of Israel. The several incidents of this ; 

exquisite story are most delicately and artistically j 
developed. But the author had two facts to place 
before his readers, namely — that the royal house 

of Israel sprang from a Moabitess, and that the \ 
Moabitess, having connected herself closely with 
the people of Israel, and acknowledged their God, 

gave proof of such virtues as could only grace a j 

daughter of Israel : chastity, refinement of feeling, j 
and power of self-sacrifice. The application of 

this literary production to the all-absorbing ques- \ 

tion of the day was self-evident. Amongst those i 

unfortunate wives who had been, or who were to be j 

repudiated by their husbands, might there not be | 
some who resembled Ruth ? And the children 

born of foreign women, but having Judsean fathers, j 

were they to be looked down upon as heathens ? '\ 

Surely, the house of David, the royal family, whose , 

ancestor had married a Moabitess, belonged to the [ 

Judsean nation. ; 

But all these representations were of no avail. | 

Ezra and the reigning senate in Jerusalem insisted j 
most severely upon the exclusion from the com- 
munity of all people who could not claim Israelite 

origin, and who were, therefore, not of ** the holy i 

seed." The failure of all conciliatory measures re- | 

suited in hostilities, which lasted for several years j 

(457-444). Ezra was, unfortunately, not a man of | 
action ; he could only pray and arouse the feelings 
of others, but he could not prevent many Judsean 
families from secretly going over to his opponents. 


On the other hand, Sanballat and his followers 
were men of decided character and of virulent 
hatred towards their adversaries, and they took 
every opportunity of harassing their enemies. At 
last they even attacked Jerusalem. 

What could have inspired them with such bold- 
ness, for they knew that Ezra was favoured by the 
Persian court, and that Judsean favourites had the 
ear of Artaxerxes ? Did they, perhaps, count upon 
the weakness or possibility of change in the Persian 
king's mood ? Or had they been emboldened by 
the revolt of Megabyzus, satrap of Syria, to whom 
both Judaea and Samaria were subordinate ? And 
while the Syrians vanquished one Persian army 
after another, were they encouraged to commence 
hostilities on their own account, and to deal a blow 
at the heart of the enemy ? Whatever might have 
induced Sanballat and his followers to take war- 
like steps against Jerusalem, they were entirely 
successful. They were able to lead a troop of sol- 
diery, whilst their opponents in Jerusalem were 
mostly ignorant of the use of arms. The result 
was that Sanballat and his followers made 
breaches in the walls of the city, that they burned 
the wooden gates, and destroyed many of the build- 
ings, so that Jerusalem was soon reduced to a heap 
of ruins. They, however, spared the Temple, for it 
was sacred in their eyes ; but it was nevertheless 
abandoned, and most of the inhabitants, having 
lost the protection of the city walls, left Jerusalem, 
and established themselves in other places where- 
ever they could obtain a living. 

The Aaronites and Levites, who were no longer 
in receipt of the tithes of the harvest, were obliged 
to seek new means of subsistence, and to leave the 
Temple. The commonwealth of Judaea was going 
through a sad phase after its recent reconstitu- 
tion of barely a century's duration. Many noble 
families made peace with their neighbours, took 


back their repudiated wives, and contracted new 
connections with the stranger. And they pledged 
themselves by a reciprocal vow of constancy to 
respect these new ties. For a short time it seemed 
as if Ezra's great work were frustrated, and as if 
the life of the commonwealth were endangered. 
How much was still required to effect a complete 
dissolution ? 

The religious ardour kindled by Ezra had spread, 
however, too widely to be rapidly extinguished. 
Some of the Judseans, maddened by grief at the de- 
struction and desolation of Jerusalem, carried their 
lamentations to the Persian empire. There they 
counted upon the aid of Nehemiah, the Judsean cup- 
bearer of Artaxerxes, whose relative Hananiah had 
actually witnessed the destruction of their city. 
They gave him a harrowing description of the sad 
state of the Judseans and of the fall of the Holy City. 
Nehemiah was struck with dismay at these tidings. 
He belonged to the zealous party in Persia, and 
was, if possible, stricter than Ezra. Jerusalem, the 
Holy City, had always presented itself to his imagi- 
nation as especially protected by God and sur- 
rounded by a fiery wall, that would permit no 
enemy to approach with impunity, and now it had 
been humbled and put to shame, like any earthly 
city. But he did not allow his grief to master him ; 
he was a man of vigorous action and great execu- 
tive power. At court he had learned the art of 
governing, and knew that a firm will could control 
both men and circumstances. He instantly deter- 
mined upon going to Jerusalem, where he would 
put an end to this miserable state of things. But 
how could he leave Persia, seeing that he was 
bound to the court by his office ? The great favour 
that Artaxerxes always showed him chained him to 
the place, and removed all prospects of a journey 
to Jerusalem. 

Full of tact, Nehemiah refrained from entreating 



Artaxerxes to give him leave to start upon his 
journey until a favourable opportunity should occur. 
But the grief that was gnawing at his heart soon 
showed itself in his face and clouded his usually 
cheerful countenance. One day, when he w^as 
pouring out wine for the king and queen his expres- 
sion of grief attracted their attention, and Arta- 
xerxes questioned him as to its cause. He instantly 
made use of the opportunity, and answered, "Why 
should not my countenance be sad, when the city, 
the place of my father's sepulchre, lieth waste, and 
the gates thereof are consumed with fire?" He 
then expressed his earnest wish to the king. Arta- 
xerxes at once granted it, and not only encouraged 
Nehemiah to undertake the journey, but advised 
him to rebuild the city walls, and to restore peace 
in the unsettled State. The king gave him letters 
to the various governors of the countries through 
which he would pass, and a grant of timber for 
building purposes. He even appointed an escort 
of soldiers to accompany him, and named him 
governor of Judaea. The king made but one con- 
dition, namely, that his stay in Jerusalem was not 
to be a lasting one, but that he must return to the 
Persian court at the expiration of a given time. 

A new chapter in the history of the common- 
wealth commences with Nehemiah' s journey to Jeru- 
salem, or rather that event completes the chapter 
begun by Ezra. Nehemiah left the city of Susa 
with a large retinue, and accompanied by an armed 
escort. As he travelled through Palestine, he pre- 
sented his credentials to the various governors, and 
thus SanBallat and Tobiah were apprised of the 
object of his journey, and naturally felt that they 
were on the eve of a war. It was a severe disap- 
pointment to them, that a Judsean, the favourite of 
Artaxerxes, who would in all probability devote 
himself to the protection of his persecuted brethren, 
should have been appointed governor of the land. 

VOL. I. c c 


When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he ab- 
stained from appearing in public for three days. 
He wished to make himself thoroughly ac- 
quainted with the scene of his duties and 
with the people with whom he would come 
into contact. Meanwhile, he devoted himself 
to the establishment of a kind of Court, for he 
was exceedingly rich, and surrounded himself with 
royal luxury. He kept the reason of his sojourn 
secret, and did not even divulge it to the leaders 
of the community, for he did not trust them. 
One night he rode forth secretly to examine the 
circumference of the ruined walls, and to devise a 
plan for reconstructing them. He then summoned 
the leading men of the community, and announced, 
to their amazement, that King Artaxerxes had given 
him complete power, not only to rebuild the walls, 
but to govern the country, and that it was his in- 
tention to wipe away the disgrace and the misery 
that had fallen upon them. The assembled Judaeans 
were not only ready to help him, but were prepared 
to aid him heart and soul. Even those who had con- 
tracted foreign marriages, and were on a friendly 
footing with the neighbouring tribes, evinced their 
approbation. But Nehemiah had imposed a heavy 
task upon himself. He was to reorganise a dis- 
jointed commonwealth, whose members, influenced 
by fear, selfishness, and a variety of motives, had 
not sufficient courage to face real danger. Nehe- 
miah' s first care was to fortify Jerusalem; he him- 
self superintended the works, and made them less 
arduous by a careful division of labour. But the 
task of rebuilding was necessarily a tedious one. 
The repudiated proselytes, headed by Sanballat and 
Tobiah, whose hope of alliance with the Judaeans had 
been decisively frustrated by Nehemiah' s words: 
— ** Ye shall have no portion, no right, no memo- 
rial in Jerusalem" — developed as much ardour in 
disturbing the work as the Judaeans did in accom- 

cH.xix. sanballat's intrigues. 387 

pushing it. They cunningly tried to make the Per- 
sians suspect Nehemiah of treason, and of having 
conceived the ambitious scheme of becoming king 
of Judaea. Then they endeavoured to discourage 
the workmen by deriding them, and by declaring 
that the walls were weak enough for a jackal to 
break down. When the walls rose to half their 
destined height, the enemy secretly determined 
upon an attack. Nehemiah, however, had armed 
some of his own people, as well as some of the 
leading members of the community, and placed 
them on guard. Each workman had a sword girt 
upon his side ; he carried his burden in one 
hand and his weapon in the other. In order to 
hasten the completion of the walls, the work was 
carried on continuously from dawn to sunset. 
Nehemiah himself regularly inspected the works, 
accompanied by a trumpeter. At the first blast of 
his trumpet, the Judseans assembled from all points. 

But instead of resuming the attack upon the 
walls, Sanballat busied himself with devising in- 
trigues against Nehemiah. He gave out that as 
soon as Jerusalem should be fortified, Nehemiah 
would cause himself to be proclaimed king of 
the Judseans and would revolt against Persia. The 
more credulous began to feel alarmed and to 
think of withdrawing from the work, so as not 
to be regarded in the light of accomplices by the 
Persians. On the other hand, the leaders of those 
tribes who were related to the Judseans, sought to 
obtain a hearing from Nehemiah. But all these 
intrigues were of no avail, and he completed the 
work commenced with such energy as even to 
compel the unwilling admiration of the enemy. 
From that time Sanballat and his followers appear 
to have given up all their fruitless attempts to 
disturb Nehemiah, or to hinder his work. 

But within the community itself, the great 
reformer had to fight no less severe a battle. Many 

c c 2 


of the most distinguished families were not only 
playing a double game of secretly befriending 
the enemy by retailing all Nehemiah's sayings, 
but they were oppressing the poor in the most 
heartless manner. When in their days of scarcity, 
the poor had borrowed money from, the rich in 
order to pay taxes to the king, or had obtained 
grain for their own consumption, they had given as 
security, their fields, their vineyards, their olive 
groves, their own houses, and sometimes even their 
very children ; and if the debt were not repaid, 
the creditors would retain the land as their own 
property, and keep the children for slaves. As the 
complaints of those who had been thus cruelly 
.treated rose more and more bitterly to the ears 
of Nehemiah, he determined to bring the hard- 
hearted wealthy Judseans to a knowledge of their 
misdeeds. He called a large assembly together, 
and spoke severely against this especial form of 
heartlessness, which was severely condemned by 
the Law. 

*' We Judseans in Persia," he exclaimed, ** have 
according to the best of our ability redeemed our 
brethren the Judseans, which were sold unto all the 
heathens, and will ye even sell your brethren ? Or 
shall they be sold unto us?" he added ironically. 
But so imposing was Nehemiah's appearance, so 
impressive his voice, and so eager were the great 
and the rich to obey the words of the Law, that 
they promised forthwith, not only to release the 
enslaved persons, but also to restore the houses, 
fields and gardens to their owners and to cancel 
their debts. Nehemiah made use of this favourable 
mood to insist that the rich should bind themselves 
by oath to carry out their promises. 

This was an important victory gained by the Law, 
as personified by Nehemiah, over selfishness. He 
indeed exceeded all others in the example of self- 
denial which he set before them. Not only did he 


refuse the tithes due to him, but he made the poor 
an advance in money and grain, and when the 
repayment was due, he would not accept it. 
His relatives and servants behaved in the same 
generous and unselfish manner. 

In this way Nehemiah overcame all difficulties 
and brought order into the community. The 
people hung upon his words, and the leading men 
followed him willingly. But when the walls of the 
city were rebuilt and the gates replaced, it 
appeared that the Levitical gatekeepers, and in 
fact all classes of the Levites, were missing. 
They had migrated into other parts of the country 
upon the destruction of the city, because they 
were receiving no tithes. Altogether, the city 
was but thinly populated, and many houses were 
destroyed or deserted. Jerusalem had therefore to 
be peopled again, and the Temple furnished anew 
with priests. 

Nehemiah caused a proclamation to be issued to 
all those who had deserted Jerusalem in the time 
of its insecurity, and to all the settlers in the land, 
inviting them to return and take up their abode in 
the capital. Many of the noble families had offered 
to do this unasked. But as those who had 
volunteered to return were too few to re-people 
Jerusalem, it was determined that the tenth part of 
the population of the whole country should be 
called upon to migrate to the capital, and that 
they should be selected by lot. Nehemiah, how- 
ever, did not think every one worthy of becoming 
a citizen of the Holy City, least of all those 
born of mixed marriages. He carefully went 
through the register of Judseans who had returned 
from Babylon, examining the descent of each 
separate family. He was remarkably strict in 
these matters. Three families, consisting of six 
hundred and forty-two persons, who could not 
prove that they were descended from Israelites, 


were not admitted, and three Aaronlte families, who 
were unable to produce the register of their tribe, 
were deprived of the dignity of the priesthood. 

As soon as Nehemiah had fortified Jerusalem, 
and had taken pains to provide a population for 
It, he had thus given the community a centre- 
point and had rendered the people a compact 
body ; his next step was to breathe into this body 
the living soul of the Law. But for this purpose 
he required the aid of the scribes. Ezra, who had 
been thrown somewhat Into the background by 
the great activity of Nehemiah, now reappeared 
upon the scene. On the festival celebrated on 
the first day of the seventh month, Ezra as- 
sembled all the people, even those who dwelt In 
the country. *'They came as one man in the 
street that was before the Water-gate in Jeru- 
salem." Here a high pulpit of wood was erected, 
upon which Ezra stood to read the Law. Every- 
thing was prepared for a remarkable and Im- 
posing solemnity. The assembly was a numerous 
one ; it consisted not only of men, but also of 
women, and of children who were old enough 
to understand what they heard. When Ezra un- 
rolled the Book of the Law, all the people arose, 
and when he blessed the Lord, the great God, 
they lifted up their hands, exclaiming Amen. 
Then Ezra began to read with an impressive 
voice, and all present listened Intently. There 
were some, indeed, unable to^ follow the reading, 
but the Levites added a short and clear expla- 
nation, so that even the most ignorant could under- 
stand. As the people heard and understood, they 
were deeply moved, and burst Into a passion of 
tears. Probably they heard for the first time that 
portion of Deuteronomy in which mention is made of 
the fearful punishments consequent upon disregard 
of the Law ; and the people, becoming conscious 
of their sins, felt unworthy of the Divine love and 


were overwhelmed with grief. Some time elapsed 
before Ezra and the priests could restore tranquil- 
lity to the excited multitude. But at length they 
were somewhat quieted, and began the celebration 
of their festival in a deeply religious mood. It 
was the first time that the people had taken the 
Book of the Law into their hearts, and that they 
had acknowledged it to be a part of themselves, 
and had felt that they were its guardians. 

The change that began during the time of the 
Babylonian exile was now to be completed. What 
the prophets had commenced the scribes ended. 
It is remarkable that such an important assembly 
should have met, not in the Temple itself, but 
in its immediate vicinity, and that the high priest 
should have taken no part in it. The Sanctuary, 
with the altar and the vessels for sacrifice, were 
to a certain extent thrown into the background. 
Though a priest, Ezra unconsciously led the 
way to a separation between the Law and the 
Temple, and to the subordination of the priest- 
hood to the Scriptures. The people became so 
enamoured of the Lavv^, for which they had cared 
but little previously, that they were always longing 
to hear more of it. The heads of the community, 
whose ancestors had obstinately rejected the teach- 
ing of the prophets, and had seemed utterly in- 
capable of reformation, now repaired on the second 
day to Ezra, and begged of him to continue his 
reading of the Pentateuch. Ezra thereupon read 
the portion concerning the festivals that were to 
be celebrated during the seventh month. It was 
in consequence of this that the leading men 
caused heralds to proclaim that all the people were 
to bring branches of olive trees, myrtles, and 
palms from the neighbouring mountains, in order 
to build huts or booths. The people executed 
this order with alacrity, and began the Festival 
of Tabernacles in a brighter mood than they had 


ever done before. During- the eight days that 
this festival lasted a portion of the Law was read 
daily, and from that time the reading- of the Law 
had its appointed place in the Divine service. 
Ezra and Nehemiah were anxious that this re- 
ligious fervour should cause those who still lived 
with their foreign wives to repudiate them of their 
own free-wdll. For this purpose a fast-day was 
appointed. All the people appeared fasting, in 
mourning, and with ashes upon their heads. The 
portion of the law forbidding intermarriage with 
Ammonites and Moabites was read and ex- 
pounded. Then a general acknowledgment of sin, 
in the name of the people, was recited by the 
Levites. The desired effect was attained; the 
Israelites separated from their foreign wives, and 
denied all relationship with Samaritans and pro- 

Ezra and Nehemiah now entreated of them to 
make a solemn covenant that they would for the fu- 
ture respect the teaching of the Law, and that they 
would not relapse into their old errors and short- 
comings. From that day forward the whole com- 
munity was to live according to the Law of Moses. 
Men, women, and children, the Temple servants, 
and even the proselytes, who clung faithfully to 
the Judeeans, took the oath that was required of 
them. They swore not to give their daughters in 
marriage to foreigners, and not to marry daughters 
of foreign tribes. This one prohibition lay closest 
to the hearts of Ezra and Nehemiah, therefore 
they attached special importance to it. They also 
swore to observe the Sabbath and the holidays, to 
let the fields lie fallow every seventh year, and 
during that year to remit the payment of debts. 
Furthermore, every individual who had attained 
his majority was to pay annually the third of a 
shekel towards the maintenance of the Temple, 
to bring the first produce of the fields and the 


orchards to the Sanctuary, every year to provide 
wood for the altar, and to secure to the priesthood 
the payment of their tithes. 

The list of obligations binding on the people, 
was inscribed upon a scroll, which was read and 
sealed by the heads of the families. Nehemiah's 
name stood first upon the list, followed by about 
eighty-five signatures of importance (according 
to one account, one hundred and twenty names 
were subscribed). This important gathering ot 
Judseans was called the Great Assembly (Keneseth 
ha-gedolah). Nehemiah had indeed accomplished 
much in a short time. He had gathered the scat- 
tered community together, had assured life and 
consistency to the commonwealth by the restora- 
tion of the capital and by affording security from 
foreign invasions, and he had also brought the 
people into harmony with the Law. 

Nehemiah evidently attached great importance 
to popular assemblies, where he could make a deep 
impression upon his audience. He therefore con- 
vened the people a second time, to consecrate the 
walls of the city. As at the former ceremony, women 
and children were amongst the congregation. In 
order to impart a joyful character to these solemni- 
ties, he invited a number of Levites who were 
skilled in music and song, to come to Jerusalem. 
Two divisions of the people, starting from the same 
point in opposite directions, marched round the 
walls and met again in the Temple. At the head 
of each division, a choir of Levites sang hymns of 
praise, each choir being accompanied by a band of 
musicians. Ezra followed one choir, and Nehemiah 
the other, each of them heading an immense con- 
course of people. In this way the two processions 
passed slowly round the walls of the city. Far 
into the distance sounded the joyous notes of the 
cymbals, harps and trumpets, whilst the songs 
bursting from the lips of the Levites echoed again 


and again from the mountains. After the day of 
mourning and atonement followed a day of uni- 
versal joy and gladness. This festival of dedication 
lasted probably eight days, and appears to have 
taken place two years and four months after the 
commencement of Nehemiah's work (442). 

In order to establish the community to whom 
he had given new life, Nehemiah sought able, 
worthy, and conscentious officers. It seems that it 
was he who divided the country into small pro- 
vinces (Pelech), placing a governor or administrator 
over each division. To the north of the Temple, 
Nehemiah built an armoury which he fortified 
strongly, so that in case of necessity it might prove 
a defence for the Sanctuary; this fortress was called 
Birah. He appointed a faithful and God-fearing 
man, Hananiah, as commander. His colleague in 
the work of regeneration, the scribe Ezra, was over- 
seer of the Temple ; and here above all things 
he insisted upon the most perfect order being main- 
tained, upon the uninterrupted performance of 
the sacrifices, and upon the maintenance of the 
Aaronites and Levites. The landowners had, it is 
true, bound themselves most solemnly to pay the 
imposts to the former, and the tithes to the latter, 
but this was not enough for Nehemiah, who re- 
quired the provision of the supplies to be con- 
stantly watched. The Levites were sent into the 
country at harvest time, to collect their tithes, and 
to bring them back to Jerusalem. In order to 
secure the strict payment of the tenth part of the 
tithes for the Aaronites, Nehemiah built two large 
grain and fruit granaries, where the rightful dis- 
tribution of property took place ; special officials 
watched over this operation. 

Not only did Nehemiah take the greatest interest 
in the re-population of the deserted city of Jeru- 
salem, but he was also busily employed in pro- 
viding the new inhabitants with suitable dwellings. 


At his own cost he erected houses for the poorest 
of the nation, and tried in every way to remedy all 
defects by spending his own fortune upon his beloved 
country. In this way, he built up a new State, upon 
which he laid but one obligation, that it should 
abide strictly by the Law. For twelve years, he was 
governor of Judah (from 444 to 432) ; he was then 
obliged to return to the Court of Artaxerxes, being 
still a great favourite of the king. He departed 
with the hope that the work he had accomplished 
might be blessed with lasting security and glory. 

But human creations are always liable to changes. 
No sooner had Nehemiah left than a counter-cur- 
rent set in that could be traced to the influence of 
the high priest Eliashib. The first retrograde stfep 
was taken when Eliashib held communication with 
the Samaritans and the foreign proselytes, against 
the wishes of the whole community. As an earnest 
of this friendship, a member of the priest's house- 
hold, named Manasseh, married Nicaso, a daughter 
of Sanballat. Others, who had formerly rebelled 
against Nehemiah' s strict line of separation, now 
followed the example of the priestly house. An 
entire change took place. Tobiah, the second 
great enemy of Nehemiah, was allowed to return 
unmolested to Jerusalem, and a large court in the 
outer Temple was actually assigned to him. 

Great demoralisation was the consequence of 
this sudden change, which allowed what had 
recently been strictly forbdiden. The people as a 
body were so outraged by the actions of the high 
priest and his party that they openly showed their 
contempt for them. The landowners, moreover, 
left off paying tithes and imposts, and thus the inno- 
cent suffered, and the Levites lost their just share 
of the national property. To avoid starvation they 
were compelled to leave the Temple and the city. 
It constantly happened that the offerings for the 
sacrifice were not forthcoming, and to prevent 


the altar from being- unprovided with victims the 
priests in charge offered up lame, blind or unsightly 
animals. Many Judaeans were so utterly disgusted 
at the behaviour of the priests and Aaronites, that 
they entirely separated themselves from the Sanc- 
tuary and from the community, following their own 
interests, to the neglect of all that was right, and- 
of all that they had sworn to uphold. When this 
class grew prosperous, the truly pious people, who 
were struggling with poverty, became utterly con- 
fused in their ideas of right and wrong, and ex- 
claimed : '*It is vain to serve God : and what profit 
is it that we have kept His charge." *' Every one 
that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and 
He delighteth in them." 

But worse than all else was the discord which 
prevailed in Jerusalem, and which threatened to 
undermine the Judsean community by causing dis- 
union in many a household. What could be pro- 
nounced right and lawful ? The father did not 
agree wdth the son ; the one followed a severe law, 
the other a less stringent code, and thus disagree- 
ments arose between the members of the various 
families. The very strictest, who would not allow 
themselves to be shaken in their convictions, looked 
these melancholy facts firmly in the face, and dis- 
cussed a plan of action. They turned with hope 
and longing towards Nehemiah, who was still at 
the court of Artaxerxes. If he would but return 
to Jerusalem, he could, with one blow, put an end 
to this miserable state of confusion, and restore 
peace, unity, and strength to the city. At this 
auspicious moment a God-fearing man suddenly 
appeared on the scene. He belonged to the 
party who were so greatly incensed at the be- 
haviour of the high priest and his followers, 
and he undertook to chastise the wicked, and 
to arouse the fainting courage of the good. 
This man, full of vigour and moved by the 


prophetic spirit, was Malachi, the last of the 
prophets. Worthily did he close the long list of 
godly men who had succeeded each other for four 
centuries. Malachi announced to his dejected and 
despairing brethren the speedy arrival of a man, 
the Messenger of the Covenant, whom many de- 
lighted in, and who would bring better days with 
him. The prophet counselled the people not to 
omit paying the tithes on account of the evil-doing 
of some of the priests, but to bring them all, as in 
former days, into the store-houses. 

Malachi, like the early prophets, proclaimed that 
in the far distant future a great and terrible day 
would dawn, when the difference between the inno- 
cent and the guilty would be made clear. Before 
the coming of that last day God would send His 
prophet Elijah, and he would reconcile the father 
t6 the son. He bade them remember and take to 
heart the Law of Moses, with its statutes and its 
judgments, which had been given to them on 
Mount Horeb. And in these terms the voice of 
prophecy was heard for the last time. 

The written Law, which had been made acces- 
sible to many through' the zeal of Ezra, and which 
had found a body of exponents, rendered the con- 
tinuance of prophetic utterances unnecessary. The 
scribe took the place of the seer, and the reading 
of the Law, either to large congregations or in 
prayer-houses, was substituted for prophetic reve- 

We may wonder whether Nehemiah at the Court 
of Persia had any idea of the yearning for his 
presence that existed at this very moment in Jerusa- 
lem. Had he any knowledge that Malachi' s belief 
in better days rested upon the hope of his return ? 
It is impossible to say, but at all events he suddenly 
reappeared in Jerusalem, having again obtained 
the king's, permission to return to the country of 
his faith, between the years 430-424, and soon 


after his arrival he became, in the words of the 
prophet, *' like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' 
earth." He cleansed the community of its impure 
elements. He began by expelling the Ammonite 
Tobiah from the place which had been given to him 
by his priestly relative, Eliashib, and by dismissing 
the latter from his office. He then assembled the 
heads of the community, and complained bitterly 
of the desertion of the Temple, which was due to 
the fact that the tithes had not been paid to the 
Levites. An admonition from Nehemiah was 
enough to induce the landed proprietors to per- 
form their neglected duties, and to cause the 
Levites to return to their service in the Temple. 
The charge of the collected tithes and their correct 
distribution he placed under the care of four con- 
scientious Judseans — some of his devoted followers. 
He restored the divine service to its former solem- 
nity, and dismissed the unworthy priests. A most 
important work for Nehemiah was the dissolution 
of the mixed marriages which had again been con- 
tracted. His action in the matter met with great 
opposition from the priestly house. Manasseh, a son 
or relation of the high priest Joiada, refused to 
separate himself from his Samaritan wife, Nicaso, 
Sanballat's daughter, and Nehemiah therefore de- 
termined to banish him from the country. Many 
other Aaronites and Judseans who would not obey 
Nehemiah' s commands, were also sent into exile. 
After peace and order had been restored to the 
capital, Nehemiah tried to abolish the abuses which 
had found their way into the provinces. Wherever 
Judseans lived in close proximity to foreign tribes, 
such as the Ashdodites, Ammonites, Moabites, or 
Samaritans, mixed marriages had led to almost 
entire ignorance of the Hebrew tongue, for the 
children of these marriages generally spoke the 
language of their mothers. This aroused Nehe- 
miah's anger, and stimulated his energy. He 


harangued the Judsean fathers, he even cursed 
them, and caused the refractory to be punished. 
By such persistent activity he was able to accom- 
plish the dissolution of mixed marriages, and the 
preservation of the Hebrew tongue. 

Nehemiah next introduced the strict observance 
of the sabbath, which had been but negligently ob- 
served hitherto. The Law had certainly forbidden 
all labour on that day, but it had not defined what 
labour really was. At all events, the Judaeans who 
lived in the provinces were ignorant on that point, 
for on the sabbath they pressed the wine, loaded 
their beasts of burden with corn, grapes, figs, and 
drove them to market into the city of Jerusalem. 
As soon as Nehemiah discovered that the sabbath 
was being kept like an ordinary week-day, he 
assembled the country people, and explained that 
they were sinning against God's Law, and they 
listened to him, and followed his injunctions. But 
he had a more difficult task in abolishing an old- 
established custom. Tyrian merchants were in the 
habit of appearing in Jerusalem on the sabbath-day 
bringing fresh fish from their voyages, and they 
found ready customers. But Nehemiah ordered 
that from henceforth all the gates should be closed 
on the sabbath eve, so that no merchant could enter 
the city. This law he carried out, and from that 
time the sabbath was rigorously observed. 

The strict observance of the Law enjoined by 
Ezra, was followed out by Nehemiah ; he strength- 
ened the wall of separation between Judseans and 
Gentiles so securely, that it was almost impossible 
to break through it. The Judseans, who were dis- 
contented with this separation and the severity ot 
the Law, were obliged to leave the Judsean com- 
munity, and form a sect of their own. Nehemiah 
himself probably lived to see the formation of the 
first sect, and as he had himself virtually contri- 
buted to it, he thought it necessary to justify his 


proceedings, and to set forth his own meritorious 
part in raising the fallen community. He com- 
posed a kind of memoir in which he related what 
he had achieved in his first and second visits to 
Jerusalem. At intervals he added to it the prayer 
that God would remember him for his services in 
the cause of holiness and of his people. It 
w^as a kind of self-justification written in his old 
age, and his name has remained eternally in the 
remembrance of a grateful people. To him and to 
Ezra, the joint authors of that great spiritual force 
which was henceforth to be irresistible among the 
Judseans, grateful posterity has attributed all the 
beneficial institutions, of whose origin it was 



Enmity of the Samaritans against the Judasans — The Temple on 
Mount Gerizim — The High Priest Manasseh — The mixed 
language of the Samaritans — Their veneration for the Law of 
Moses — Judaism loses its national meaning — The Jubilee and 
Sabbatical Year — Almsgiving — The Council of Seventy — The 
' Assyrian Characters — The Schools and the Sopherim — Observ- 
ance of the Ceremonies — The Prayers — The Persian Angels and 
Demons — The Future Life — The Judseans under Artaxerxes IL 
and IIL — Their Banishment to the Caspian Sea — Jochanan and 
Joshua contend for the office of High Priest — Bagoas — The 
Writings of the Period — The Greeks and Macedonians — Alex- 
ander the Great and the Judaeans — Judaea accounted a Province 
of Ccelesyria — Struggles between Alexander's Successors — Cap- 
ture of Jerusalem by Ptolemy — Judaea added to the Lagidean- 
Egyptian Kingdom — The Judsean Colonies in Egypt and Syria 
and the Greek Colonies in Palestine. 

420 — 300 B.C. 

Hatred which arises from rejected love is stronger 
and more vehement than enmity resulting from in- 
explicable antipathy, jealousy or intentional insult. 
Sanballat, as well as his Samaritan followers and 
companions, out of love and preference for the 
God of Israel, had struggled to be accepted in 
the Judaean community. The virulence of their 
enmity against Nehemiah, who had raised the 
Commonwealth from its declining state, was in 
reality an impetuous offer of love, by which they 
hoped to secure an intimate connection with 
Judaea. But when the Samaritans were repeatedly 
repulsed, this yearning love had changed into 
burning hatred. When Sanballat, who thought 
he had arrived at the height of his ambition 
through his connection with the high priest's 
VOL. 1. DD 


family, heard of the insult shown him, namely, 
that his son-in-law Manasseh had been sent into 
exile on account of the priest's marriage with his 
daughter, then the measure of his wrath was full. 
He cunningly conceived the plan of undermining 
the Judsean community, by the help of its own 
members. How would it be, were he to raise a 
temple to the God of Israel, in rivalry to the 
one which held sway in Jerusalem ? Were there 
not amongst his followers priests of the de- 
scendants of Aaron, who would conduct the 
service in the new sanctuary according to pre- 
scribed order ? The dignity of high priest would 
litlv clothe his son-in-law Manasseh, and the 
Aaronites who had been expelled from the Temple 
might officiate with him. Everything appeared 
favourable to his design. His desire of wor- 
shipping the God of Israel, and his ambition of 
being at the head of an exclusive community, could 
easily be satisfied. 

Thus on the summit of the fruitful Mount Ge- 
rizim, at the foot of the city of Shechem, in the 
very heart of the land of Palestine, Sanballat 
built his Temple, probably after the death of 
Artaxerxes (420). 

The Aaronites who had been expelled from Jeru- 
salem and who were well versed in all the tenets of 
the Law, had selected this site because they knew 
that, according to the Book of Deuteronomy, the 
blessings were to be pronounced from that mount 
upon the followers of the Law of Moses. But the 
Samaritans gave to the old words a new interpreta- 
tion. They called, and still call to this day, Mount 
Gerizim *' the Mount of Blessings," as if blessing 
and salvation proceeded from the mount itself 
Even the town of Shechem they called ** Blessing " 
(Mabrachta). Sanballat, or the priests of this 
temple of Gerizim,, declared that the mixed race of 
the Samaritans were not descendants of the exiles 


taken into that country by an Assyrian king-, but 
that, on the contrary, they were true Israelites, a 
remnant of the Ten Tribes or of the tribes of 
Joseph and Ephraim. There may have truly been 
amongst them some descendants of these families, 
who, after the destruction of the kingdom of 
the Ten Tribes, clung to Samaria; but that the 
numerous Cuthseans who gathered round San- 
ballat, in addition to the Ammonites and the 
Arabians, were justified in calling themselves de- 
scendants of Joseph and Ephraim and Israelites, 
was one of those ingenious and audacious fictions 
which, from their very exaggeration, stagger even 
those who are thoroughly convinced of their false- 
hood. Their language, however, betrayed their 
mixed origin ; it was a conglomeration of Aramaic 
and of other foreign elements, and it was thus 
impossible to define from what stock they sprang. 

But the venture was a successful one. The Sa- 
maritans had their temple, around which they 
gathered; they had priests from the house of 
Aaron ; they compared Mount Gerizim, as they 
called their holy mount, to Mount Moriah ; they 
drew the inference from the Book of the Law that 
God had designed Mount Gerizim as a site 
for a sanctuary, and they proudly called them- 
selves Israelites. Sanballat and his followers being 
intent upon attracting a great many Judseans to 
their community, tempted them with the offer of 
houses and land, and in every way helped to 
support them. Those who had been guilty of crime 
and who feared punishment, were received with 
open arms by the Samaritans. Out of such ele- 
ments a new semi-Judsean community or sect was 
formed. Their home was in the somewhat limited 
district of Samaria, the centre of which was either 
the city that gave its name to the province or 
the town of Shechem. The members of the new 
community became an active, vigorous, intelligent 

D D 2 


people, as if Sanballat, the founder, had breathed 
his spirit into them. In spite of its diminutive size, 
this sect has continued until the present day. The 
existence of the Samaritans, as a community, may 
really be considered a signal victory of the Judsean 
faith, for it was religion alone that kept so mixed a 
people together ; it became the bright star of their 
lives, to which they remained faithful, in spite of 
opposition and adverse destiny. The Samaritans 
treated the Torah brought to them by exiled priests, 
with as much reverence as the Judaeans did, and re- 
gulated their religious and social life according to 
its requirements. But, in spite of all this similarity, 
the Judaeans took no pleasure in this accession 
to their community of a people who had accepted 
their own teachings. This first Judsean sect caused 
them as much sorrow as the one which, at a later 
period, was developed from their race. The Sa- 
maritans were not only their bitterest foes, but they 
actually tried to argue away the right of the Ju- 
daeans to exist as a community. They declared 
that they alone were the descendants of Israel, 
and they denied the sanctity of Jerusalem and 
its Temple, affirming that everything achieved by 
the Judsean people was a debasement of the old 
Israelite character. The Samaritans were ever 
on the alert to see if events were taking place 
in Judaea by which they might gain any advan- 
tage for themselves, and, had it but been in their 
power, they would have entirely destroyed the 
people whomi they were closely imitating. Upon 
the Judaean side, the hatred against their Samaritan 
neighbours was equally great. They called them 
" the abandoned people who lived in Shechem.'' 
The enmity between Jerusalem and Samaria that 
existed in the time of the two kingdoms blazed out 
anew ; it no longer bore a political character, but 
one of a religious tendency, and was therefore the 
more violent and passionate. 

CH. XX. "JUDAISM." 405 

The existence of the Samaritan sect had, mean- 
while, a stimulating effect upon the Judseans : as 
they continually came into collision with their 
opponents, and were obliged to listen to doctrines 
in the highest degree distasteful to them, they 
were forced to keep watch over their own ac- 
tions in order to understand their own inmost 
being, and the Samaritans helped them in this 
self-study. What was it that distinguished them 
not only from a heathen world, but also from those 
neighbours who, like themselves, worshipped the 
one God and acknowledged the same Revelation ? 
It was thus the thought that they possessed a 
peculiar creed became confirmed in them, as also 
the true idea of '* Judaism," when they beheld their 
own counterparts. Judaism no longer implied a 
nationality, but a religious conviction. The name 
** Judsean " lost its racial distinction, and was used 
for any member of the Israelite community, were he 
a descendant of Judah or Benjamin, an Aaronite 
or a Levite. A Judaean was required to believe im- 
plicitly that the Torah was the direct revelation 
from God, given to the children of Israel through 
the mediation of Moses. 

The reverence and love with which it came to be 
treated after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, was 
as complete as had been the indifference of the 
people in general to the Sacred Book in earlier 
times. *' A wise man trusts the Law, and 
the Law is as true as the words of the truth- 
giving Urim and Thummim." The Torah was 
looked upon as the quintessence of all wis- 
dom, and was honoured as such. Hebrew poetry, 
still full of life, glorified it with enthusiastic 
praise. It followed naturally that the Torah 
became the corner-stone of the little State or 
Commonwealth of Judah. Before a Judaean under- 
took or desisted from any action he would ask 
whether he was abiding by Holy Writ. Slavery 


amongst his own people came to an end ; even if a 
Judsean wished to sell himself as a slave he could 
not find a buyer. Therefore the year of Jubilee, 
intended as a year of release to slaves, became 
an unnecessary institution. On the other hand, 
the Sabbatical year was strictly kept. The debts 
of the poor were then cancelled, and the fields 
lay fallow. Probably the Judsean favourites at 
the Persian Court had already demanded that, 
in the Sabbatical year, they might be exempt 
from paying taxes upon the produce of their 
fields. The poor were treated with great com- 
miseration, for the Pentateuch declared that 
there should be no needy in the land. Almsgiving 
w^as looked upon in this new order of things as the 
highest virtue. In every town, members of the Ju- 
dsean community were appointed to occupy them- 
selves with the giving of alms. The constant 
complaints of the prophets and psalmists concern- 
ing the hard-heartedness displayed by the Judseans 
towards the poor and the helpless would no longer 
have been justified. Justice was admirably ad- 
ministered, and so conscientiously was it carried out 
that the Judaean law-officers might have been 
held up as models to the rest of the world. Twice 
a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, which were 
market days, public courts of justice were held in 
all large towns. 

It was most natural that as the life of the com- 
munity was regulated according to the commands 
of the Torah, the spiritual leaders of the people 
should have devised a supreme court of justice, 
possessing the power to make and enforce laws, 
which was founded upon scriptural authority. For 
they were but carrying out the words of Deuter- 
onomy, in which was enjoined the establishment of 
a superior court of justice, where a final and 
irrevocable decision in doubtful cases could be 
given. The question now arose as to how many 


members should constitute this court. Seventy 
elders had shared with Moses the great burden of his 
duties, the representatives of seventy great families 
of the children of Israel. It was therefore decided 
that the supreme tribunal and high court of justice 
should number seventy elders. This peculiar 
assembly, that lasted until the destruction of the 
Judsean Commonwealth and became the strict 
upholder of the Law, played an important part 
in histor}^ and was doubtless called into life at 
this period. At what other time could it have 
arisen ? Thus the great assembly that Nehemiah 
had appointed, whose members were administrators 
of public affairs, developed into a lasting body or 
council for settling all religious and social questions. 
The seventy members of the supreme council were 
probably chosen from various great families. The 
high priest, whether he was worthy of the dignity 
or not, was placed at, their head. The president 
was called '' father of the tribunal " (Ab Beth-din). 
When the council was formed it proceeded to 
follow out and to carry into effect what Ezra and 
Nehemiah had begun, namely, the application of 
Judaism or the Law to the life and customs of the 
people. This supreme council brought about an 
entire revolution. 

All the changes which we notice two hundred 
years later in the Judsean Commonwealth were its 
work, the new regulations that tradition assigns to 
Ezra, and which were known under the name of 
Sopheric regulations (Dibre Sopherim) were the 
creations of this body. It laid a sure foundation 
for the edifice that was to last a thousand years. 
Above all, it instituted regularly appointed readings 
from the Law; on every sabbath and on every week 
day a portion from the Pentateuch was to be read to 
the assembled congregation. Twice a week, when 
the country people came up from the villages to 
market in the neighbouring towns, or to appeal 


at the courts of justice, some verses of the Penta- 
teuch, however few, were read publicly. At first 
only the learned were allowed to read, but at last it 
was looked upon as so great an honour to belong- 
to the readers, that every one attempted or desired 
to do so. Unfortunately the characters in which 
the Torah was written were hardly readable. 
Until that date the text of the Torah had been 
written in the ancient style with Phoenician or 
old Babylonian characters, which could only be 
deciphered by practised scribes. For the Judseans 
in Persia, even more than for the Judseans in 
Palestine, the Torah was a book with seven seals. 
It was therefore necessary to transform the old- 
fashioned characters of the Hebrew writing (Khetab 
Ibrith) into others, which w^re familiar to the 
inhabitants of the land between the Euphrates 
and Tigris. This new or modernised writing which 
was employed by the Judaeans of Palestine and of 
the Persian provinces, was also used in the texts of 
the Torah, and of the other sacred books. In order 
to distinguish it from the old writing, it was called 
the Assyrian (Khetab Ashurith), because it was 
developed in one of the Assyrian provinces. The 
Samaritans, out of a spirit of contradiction, retained 
the old Hebrew characters for their book of the 
Pentateuch, so as to reproach their opponents with 
having introduced a forbidden novelty, and with 
having falsified the Torah. Until the present day, 
their holy writ exists in these old-fashioned cha- 
racters, so that it is a closed book even to most of 
their priests. 

From the constant reading of the Law, there 
arose among the Judaeans an intellectual activity 
and vigour, which at last gave a special cha- 
racter to the whole nation. The Torah became 
their spiritual and intellectual property, and their 
own inner sanctuary. At this time there sprang 
up other important institutions, namely, schools, 


where the young men could stimulate their ardour 
and increase their knowledge of the Law and 
its teachinos. The intellectual leaders of the 
people continually enjoined on the rising genera- 
tion, *' Bring up a great many disciples." And 
what they enjoined so strenuously they them- 
selves must have assisted to accomplish. One 
of these religious schools (Beth-Waad) was pro- 
bably established in Jerusalem. The teachers 
were called scribes (Sopherim) or wise men; 
the disciples, pupils of the wise (Talmude Cha- 
chamim). The wise men or scribes had a two- 
fold work ; on the one hand they had to explain 
the Torah, and on the other, to make the laws 
applicable to each individual and to the com- 
munity at large. This supplementary interpreta- 
tion was called "explanation" (Midrash) ; it was 
not altogether arbitrary, but rested upon certain 
rules laid down for the proper interpretation of the 
law. The supreme council and the houses of 
learning worked together, and one completed the 

A hardly perceptible, but most important move- 
ment was the result ; for the descendants of the 
Judseans of that age were endowed with a charac- 
teristic, which they might otherwise have claimed 
as inborn, the talent for research and the 
intellectual penetration, needed for turning and 
returning words and data, in order to discover some 
new and hidden meaning. The supreme council 
that gave birth to these institutions and to this new 
movement, did not confine itself to the interpre- 
tation of the existing laws, and to their application 
to daily life, but it also drew up its own code of 
laws, which were to regulate, to stimulate and to 
establish the religious and social life of the people. 
There was an old maxim of great repute in Judsea: 
*'Make a fence to the Law." By this maxim the 
teacher of the Law was enjoined to forbid certain 


innocent things that touched too closely upon the 
forbidden points, or that might be mistaken for 
them. This method of guarding against any 
possible infringement of the law, by means of a 
*^ fence'* (Seyag) had its justification in the care- 
less unsettled habits of these early days. It was 
absolutely necessary that the mass of the people, 
who were wholly uneducated, should accustom 
themselves to the performance of the precepts and 
duties enjoined by the law. 

An entire set of laws belonging to the Sopheric 
age was developed from a fear of violating the com- 
mands of the Torah. For instance, the degrees of 
relationship considered lawful for matrimony were 
increased in number; the violation of chastity was 
most carefully prevented, and men were forbid- 
den to hold private interviews with married women 
in solitary places. The loose way in which 
the Sabbath was observed in Nehemiah's age, 
led to an extraordinary outburst of Sabbatarianism. 
In order to prevent any possible violation of the 
Sabbath or of the festival days, all work was 
to cease at sunset on the preceding evening, and 
an official was appointed to proclaim, by the 
blast of a horn, the proper hour for repose. The 
Sabbath day and the festivals were intended to 
obliterate for the time being the cares and the 
troubles of the working days, and to create a 
serene frame of mind in the observers of the 
law. It was partly to express this that it became 
a custom of these days to drink a goblet of wine 
at the coming in and going out of the festivals, and 
to pronounce a blessing upon them, declaring that 
those days were holy, dedicated to God (Kiddush), 
and that they had a peculiar significance in con- 
tradistinction to the working days (Habdalah). 
By laws such as these, which were not permitted to 
remain a dead letter, the Sabbath acquired a holy 


The first evening of the Paschal feast, falling as 
it always does in the spring time, was invested with 
its own special significance. It was intended to 
arouse and to keep alive throughout the year to 
come a grateful remembrance of the deliverance 
from Egypt, and the enjoyment of a precious free- 
dom. It was either obligatory or customary to 
drink four glasses of wine upon this festival of 
rejoicing, and even the poorest managed to obtain 
this draught "that rejoices the heart." On the 
eve of the Passover, the members of each family, 
with their most intimate friends, gathered socially 
round the table, not to indulge in a luxurious 
meal, but to thank and praise the God of their 
fathers ; they ate bitter herbs, broke unleavened 
bread, tasted some of the Paschal lamb in com- 
memoration of their freedom, and they drank 
the goblet of wine to inaugurate this bright 
festival with a cheerful heart. Gradually it be- 
came a religious institution that the Paschal eve 
should be ushered in by these family and friendly 
gatherings, and that the lamb should be eaten by 
an assembly (Chaburah). Psalms were always sung 
upon these occasions, and the Passover evening 
came to be considered in the light of a genial 
family festival. 

The prayers prescribed on Sopheric authority 
had no hard and fast form, but the line of thought 
they contained was in a certain sense laid down for 
them. The form of prayer used in the Temple 
became the model of the services in all prayer- 
houses, or houses of gathering (Beth-ha-Keneseth). 
Divine service was performed at early morning in 
a court of the Temple, and commenced with one or 
more specially selected Psalms of praise and thanks- 
giving. At the conclusion of the Psalms, the whole 
congregation exclaimed : ** Praise be to the God 
of Israel, who alone doeth wonders, and praised be 
the glory of His name for ever and ever, and mav 


His glory fill the whole earth;" upon which 
followed a prayer of thanksgiving for the light of 
the sun, that God had given to the whole world, 
and for the light of the Law, that He had given to 
Israel. This was succeeded by the reading of 
several portions from the Torah, the Ten Com- 
mandments, the Schema : *' The Lord God of Israel, 
the Lord our God is one;" the whole congregation 
adding these words : *' Blessed be the name of 
the glory of His Kingdom for ever and ever." 
The principal prayer, the Tephillah, was com- 
posed of six short parts : a thanksgiving that 
God had chosen the children of Israel as His 
servants ; an acknowledgment of the divine power 
in nature, showing itself in lifegiving rain ; of 
the divine power in man, evinced in the future 
resurrection of the dead from their graves ; an 
acknowledgment of the Holiness of God ; a sup- 
plication for the accomplishment of all prayers 
and for the acceptance of sacrifice; a thanks- 
giving for the preservation of life and a prayer 
for peace, which was followed by the blessing of 
the priest. In the afternoon and evening, the 
congregation assembled again for prayer, but the 
service was short, as the Psalms and chapters of 
the Law were omitted. 

On the Sabbath and festival days, the morning 
service was not materially different, except that 
one particular prayer was interpolated, in which 
special mention was made of the sanctity of the 
day, and a longer portion from the Torah was read 
at its close. In time a portion from the prophets, 
especially a chapter bearing upon the character 
of the day, was read. The opposition in which 
the Judeeans stood to the Samaritans, prompted 
this reading from the prophets. For the Sama- 
ritans, who denied the sanctity of the Temple and 
of Jerusalem, omitted the prophetical writings, 
because they contained such constant allusions to 


the holy city and the chosen sanctuary. So 
much the more necessary did it appear to the 
upholders of Judaism to let these writings be 
heard. In consequence of this regulation, the 
words of those prophets who had but rarely been 
listened to while they still lived, were now read in 
every Judaean house of prayer, and though they were 
but partially understood by the greater number of 
the congregation, nevertheless they became mighty 
levers to arouse the enthusiasm of the nation. 
As these readings ended the morning service, they 
were called *'the end " (Haphtarah). It thus became 
necessary to make a collection of the prophetic 
writings, striking out some of the books, and 
including others. This choice was probably made 
by the lawgivers of the Sopheric age. The collec- 
tion embraced the four historical books, Joshua, 
Judges, Samuel and Kings, which were called the 
older prophetical works; then came three books, 
great in interest, bearing the names of the pro- 
phets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel ; and lastly 
the twelve minor prophets, Hosea, Amos, Joel, 
Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Ze- 
phaniah, Haggai. Zachariah and Malachi. The 
works of these prophets were all recognised as 
Holy Writ, but were placed after the Torah, on 
the second rung of the ladder of holiness. 

In this way the divine service of the Sopheric age 
was constructed; it was simple and edifying, it 
contained nothing superfluous, disturbing or 
wearying, and it grew out of the thoughts, out of 
the very spirit of those time-honoured treasures, 
the writings of the prophet and the psalmist. It 
contained only one foreign element, the hope and 
the belief in the resurrection of the dead from their 
graves on the last day. With this exception every- 
thing was taken from the pure spring of the earliest 

The inhabitants of the country towns introduced 


amongst their own congregations an exact copy of 
the divine service as it was conducted in Jeru- 
salem, for which they did not even require the 
autocratic voice of the Law. Thus in each town, 
houses of prayer (Synagogues, Maade-El) were 
established, in which prayers were read as they 
exist now, which have become the groundwork 
of the divine service of the present day. Besides 
the prayers, sacrifices were offered up according to 
the letter of the Law. These two forms of divine 
service were blended into one; they completed 
and helped one another. The spiritual service 
took place at rather a later hour than the offerings ; 
three times during the day, whilst the priests were 
offering up their sacrifices, the congregations 
assembled in the prayer-houses, but on Sabbath 
and on festival days, when special sacrifices were 
offered up in the Temple (Korban Mussaph) the 
congregation assembled four times for prayer 
(Tephillath Mussaph). But even the sacrifices were 
accompanied by the living Word, and grew as it 
were more spiritual, for it became customary to 
sing the Psalms at intervals between the offerings, 
so great an influence did the sublime poetry 

There was however one very prominent feature 
connected with the Temple and the sacrifices which 
was opposed to the essentially spiritual tendency of 
the prophetic and psalmistic poetry. It was that 
which related to the laws concerning purity and 
impurity. The Law of the Torah had certainly 
given very precise regulations on these matters ; 
an unclean person could not bring offerings, or 
approach the sanctuary or even taste consecrated 
food. There were many degrees of unclean- 
ness, and the Law prescribed how unclean 
persons might be purified. The last act of 
purification always consisted in bathing in fresh 
running water. These laws would never have 


attained such far-spreading and extraordinary 
importance had it not been for the sojourn of the 
Judseans during so many centuries in Persia, where 
the inhabitants observed with the utmost rigour all 
the laws on purification, which they carried into 
effect with scrupulous care. These laws, accord- 
ing to the Iranian Avesta of the Persians, whose 
priests were Magians, were as strict as they were 
revolting, and the Judseans lived surrounded by 
these Magians whilst they were under Persian rule. 
The Judseans were well aware that much of their 
teaching bore a striking resemblance to that of the 

The fundamental conception of the Deity, as of 
one incorporeal perfect God, was so firmly im- 
planted in the heart of every Judaean, that not one 
man would allow himself to be influenced by the 
conception of the Persian god of light Ahura- 
Mazda (Ormuzd), however spiritual that conception 
might be. Then seers, full of penetration, speedily 
divined the great error of the Iranian doctrine of 
acknowledging two great rival powers, the god of 
light and goodness, and the god of darkness and 
sin, Angro-Mainyus (Ahriman). They contrasted 
that doctrine with their own belief, that the God 
of Israel created light and darkness, good and 
evil. They denied that the world and man- 
kind are being perpetually drawn in divergent 
directions by two rival powers, but affirmed 
that man is destined to live at peace and in 
unity. The spiritual leaders of the Judaeans in the 
Sopheric age expressed this belief in one of the 
morning prayers: "God is the Creator of light and 
of darkness. He has created peace and has made 
everything." But although the Judseans resisted 
any alteration in their conception of the Deity, still 
they could not prevent many of the ideas and 
customs of the Persians from gaining ground 
among the nation. They imagined that they were 


adding to the glory of God if, in imitation of the 
Iranians, they surrounded Him with myriads of 
obedient servants. The "messengers of God," 
whom we read of in the Bible as beings sent 
to execute His will, became, according to the doc- 
trine of Persia, heavenly creatures, endowed with 
peculiar characteristics and special individuality. 
The people pictured to themselves the heavenly 
throne, surrounded by a countless throng of heavenly 
beings, or angels, awaiting a sign to do the bidding 
of God. *^ A thousand thousand served Him, and 
a myriad myriad stood around Him." Like the 
Persians, the Judseans called the angels " the holy 
watchers" (Irin-Kadishin). The angels received 
special names : Michael, Gabriel, the strong, 
Raphael, the healer, Uriel or Suriel, Matatoron, 
and others. 

As the imagination ofYazatas had given the 
angels a Hebrew character and Hebrew names, so 
did it also introduce the bad spirits, or Daevas, 
among the Judseans. Satan was a copy of Angro- 
Mainyus, but he was not placed in juxtaposition to 
the God of Israel, for this would not have been 
permitted by the Judseans. He, the holy One, high 
and mighty and all powerful, could not be rendered 
less great, or approached in any way by one of 
His own creations. But still the first step had been 
taken, and Satan, strong and powerful ' like his 
Iranian prototype, was placed in his own kingdom 
of darkness, where he reigned as the supreme power 
of evil. Whoever created Satan according to the 
ideal Angro-Mainyus must have given him a host of 
attendant demons, bad spirits (Shedim, Mazikim, 
Malache Chabalah), some of whom had individual 
characteristics. One demon, Ashmodai, Samael, 
was at the head of a troop of persecuting spirits ; 
another was an angel of death, with a thousand eyes, 
lying in ambush, ready to seize upon men's lives 
(Malach-ha-Maveth). The Judaeans soon adopted 


these creatures of the imagination, and with them 
many of the beliefs and customs of the Magians. 
It was supposed, for instance, that during sleep, a 
spirit often rested upon the hands of the sleeper, 
therefore a maxim enforced washing of the hands 
upon awaking. The laws of purification became 
stricter than ever, after the example of the 

It was at that time that a new law of compensa- 
tion, or of eternal recompense, was developed. By 
this law, the universe was divided into two great 
kingdoms; those of light and darkness; the pure, or 
worshippers of Ahura-Mazda, were admitted into 
the region of light (Paradise), and the wicked, the 
followers of Angro-Manyus, into the kingdom of 
darkness (Hell). After death, the soul remained 
during three days near the body it had tenanted ; 
then, according to its life upon earth, it was taken by 
the Yazatas to Paradise, or was drawn down by the 
Daevas into Hell. This idea of retribution after death 
was adopted by the Judseans. The garden of Eden 
(Gan-Eden) where the story of the Creation placed 
the first human beings whilst they lived in a state 
of innocence, was transformed into Paradise, and the 
valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom) in which, since the 
days of Ahaz, sacrifices of children had been offered 
up, gave the name to the newly-created Hell. In 
what way could such new beliefs have crept into 
the Judaean faith? We cannot explain this any 
more than we can explain how the pores of a 
human being becorne impregnated with an illness 
that has poisoned the atmosphere. But the doc- 
trines of angels, of Satan, and his attendant spirits, 
of Paradise and of Hell, did 'not become actual 
articles of faith, which it would be mortal sin to 
doubt, but on the contrary, during that time, and 
in all future time, each individual was permitted to 
accept or to reject this doctrine. Only one belief 
emanating from the Iranian religion became part 



of the spiritual life of the Judseans, until it grew at 
last to be a binding dogma ; it was that of the 
resurrection of the dead from their graves. The 
Magians had taught and insisted upon this doctrine. 
They imagined a future day when Ahura-Mazda 
would have destroyed and conquered his rival, 
when the god of darkness would have to give up 
the bodies of the " pure men " which he had stolen. 
The Judaism of the Sopheric age adopted this hope- 
ful and satisfactory doctrine all the more readily, as 
allusions to it existed in the Judaic writings. The 
prophets had constantly made references to the day 
of the last judgment, and the scribes inferring 
that the resurrection of the dead was meant, had 
made it an article of faith amongst their people. 

In the daily prayer it became customary to praise 
God for awakening the dead to life. When the 
Judsean nation was struggling with death, a seer of 
the time exclaimed to the sufferers : — 

" Many of those who are sleeping in dust will awake, some to 
eternal life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." 

In this manner a peculiar doctrine of retaliation, 
with a brilliant picture of the future, or of the next 
world (01am ha-Ba), was evolved. A magical world 
unfolded itself to the eye, almost intoxicating to 
the believer. For the time would come when all 
discords of life would change into harmony, when 
all disappointments would vanish, whei) the pious, 
the faithful, and the just, who had suffered so much 
upon earth, would rise from their graves and enter 
on eternal life in purity and in peace. Even the sin- 
ners who had only erred out of frivolity and weak- 
ness, would be purified by penitence in Hell, and 
would enjoy the pleasures of eternal life. But how 
was this resurrection to take place, and how was 
this beautiful new world to be organised? No 
imagination could find an answer to such a question. 
Fervent faith and enthusiastic hope hardl}^ descend 


to explanations. It is enough that they come with 
the consoling certainty of a future life and just 
recompense ; that they assuage sorrow and soften 
regret, called forth by the hard adversities of daily 
life. Although Judaism received the essence of this 
teaching from the stranger, yet the power of 
enriching it, and of endowing it with the faculty of 
working immeasurable good, came from within. 
In fact, the origin of this belief became at last 
unknown, and it was considered as an original Ju- 
dsean doctrine. Only the Samaritans objected for 
a considerable time to the belief of the resurrection 
and to the idea of a future life. 

During this long period of nearly two hundred 
years, while the Judsean Community established 
itself, and Judaism became developed by the en- 
largement of her own doctrines and the adoption 
of foreign elements — from the death of Nehemiah 
to the destruction of the Persian kingdom — we do 
not find a single name mentioned of any personage 
who assisted in that great work, which was to out- 
live and defy the storms of ages. Was it from 
excess of modesty that the spiritual leaders of the 
people, with whom the new order of things had 
originated, thus concealed themselves in obscurity, 
or from their desire to veil the personal influence to 
which that new order owed its birth ? Of is it the 
ingratitude of posterity that has effaced these 
names? Or, again, were the members of the Great 
Council not sufficiently gifted or remarkable to 
merit any particular distinction, and was the Com- 
munity indebted for its vigour, and Judaism for its 
growth and development, entirely to the public 
zeal in which every individual will was completely 
absorbed ? Whatever was the cause, the astonish- 
ing fact remains that of these long stretches of 
time but few details have become known to us. 
Either no annals were kept of the events of those 
years, or they have been lost. It is true there were 

EE 2 


no very remarkable events to describe, the activity 
of the Judsean Community being entirely employed 
upon itself, and wholly devoted to its own growth 
and development, which did not then appear of suf- 
ficient importance to be chronicled for posterity. 
There was indeed but little for the historian to 
write about : a stranger might perhaps have been 
struck by the changes which were gradually unfold- 
ing themselves, but to those who lived and worked 
in the Community, what was there of a peculiar or 
extraordinary nature which would deserve to be 
perpetuated in history ? 

The Judaean people occupied themselves almost 
entirely with peaceful avocations ; they understood 
but little of the use of arms ; perhaps not even 
enough to preserve their own territories against the 
attacks of their neighbours. The prophet Ezekiel 
had described what the condition of the Jews would 
be after their return from captivity. 

"In the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought 
back from the sword and is gathered out of many people against the 
mountains of Israel." (Ezek. xxxviii. 8.) 

A peaceful, quiet existence naturally withdraws 
itself from curious observation. In the wars which 
were often raging on their borders, the Judsean 
people certainly took no part. Under Artaxerxes II., 
surnamed Mnemon (404-362) and under Artaxerxes 
III., surnamed Ochus (361-338), the discontented 
Egyptians, some of whom called themselves kings, 
endeavoured to free their country from the Persian 
yoke, and to restore it to its former independence. 
In order to be enabled to offer effectual resistance 
to the armies collected for the purpose of putting 
down these insurrections, the ephemeral kings 
of Egypt joined the Persian satraps of Phoenicia, 
to whom Judxa had also been allotted. Persian 
troops often passed along the Judsean coasts of 
the Mediterranean towards Egypt, or Egyptians 


towards Phoenicia, and Greek mercenaries, hired 
by either power, marched to and fro, and all this 
warlike array could be constantly observed by the 
Judseans from their mountain-tops. They did not 
always remain mere passive spectators ; for though 
they were not compelled to join the armies, 
they were certainly not exempt from various 
charges and obligations. The relations between 
the Judseans and the Persians became at the same 
time somewhat embittered. The latter, influenced 
by foreign example, began to practise idolatry. 
The goddess of love, who, under the different 
names of Beltis, Mylltta, or Aphrodite, was con- 
stantly brought under the notice of the Persians, 
exercised a fascinating power over them. The 
victories they had achieved and the riches they 
had acquired, inclined them to sensual gratifications, 
and they were easily enthralled by the goddess, 
and induced to serve and worship her. As soon 
as they had adopted this new deity they gave 
her a Persian name, Anahita, Anaitis, and included 
her in their mythology. Artaxerxes II. sanctioned 
her worship, and had images of her placed every- 
where in his great kingdom, in the three principal 
cities, Babylon, Susa, and Ecbatana, as well as in 
Damascus, Sardes, and in all the towns of Persia 
and Bactria. Through this innovation the Per- 
sian religion sustained a double injury. A strange 
deity was admitted, and image-worship introduced. 
Thus likewise the spiritual link which had bound 
the Persians to the followers of Judaism, their 
common abhorrence of idolatry, was broken. No 
longer was pure incense offered to the incor- 
poreal God of the Jud3eans. Having compelled his 
own people to bow down to this goddess, Artaxerxes 
tried, as it appears, to enforce her worship upon 
the Judseans ; the latter were cruelly treated, in 
order to make them renounce their religion, but 
they preferred the worst punishments, and even 


death itself, rather than to abjure the faith of their 
fathers. It is related that after his war with the 
Egyptians and their king* Tachos (361-360), Arta- 
xerxes banished many Judaeans from their countr}^ 
and sent them to Hyrkania, on the shores of the 
Caspian Sea. If this account may be considered 
historical, the banishment of the Judseans must 
surely have been a mode of persecution inflicted 
upon them on account of their fidelit}^ to their 
laws and their God ; for it is hardly to be supposed 
that they took any part in the revolt against 
Persia, which was then spreading from Egypt to 
Phoenicia. In Jerusalem there was much suffering 
at that time, caused by one of those abject crea- 
tures, who, owing to the growing degeneracy of 
the Persian Court and increasing weakness of the 
kingdom, raised himself from the dust, and ruled 
both the country and the throne. This was the 
eunuch Bagoas (Bagoses), who under Artaxerxes 
III. became so powerful that he was able to set 
aside the king, and fill the throne according to his 
own pleasure. Before attaining this supreme po- 
sition, Bagoas had been the commander of the 
troops stationed in Syria and Phoenicia, and he 
had taken advantage of the opportunities thus 
offered him to acquire great riches. He received 
bribes from Joshua, the ambitious son of the high 
priest, who hoped thus to secure that post for 
himself. Joshua had an elder brother, Jochanan, 
and both were sons of Joiada, one of whose rela- 
tions, having connected himself with Sanballat, 
had been banished from Jerusalem by Nehemiah ; 
he it was who introduced the rival worship on 
Mount Gerizim. After the death of Joiada, the 
younger son, trusting to the countenance of Ba- 
goas, came forward to seize the high priest's 
diadem. The elder brother was enraged at this 
assumption, and a strife, which ended In blood- 
shed, took place between the two in the Temple 

CH. XX. BAGOAS. ' 423 

itself. A sad omen for the future ! Upon hearing 
what had occurred at Jerusalem, the eunuch in- 
stantly proceeded thither, not to avenge the death 
of Joshua, but, under the pretext of awarding a 
well-deserved punishment, to extort money for 
himself. For each lamb that was daily offered in 
the Temple, the people were ordered to pay 50 
drachms as expiatory money, and this sum was 
to be brought every morning, before the sacrifice 
was performed. Bagoas also violated the law 
which forbade any layman to enter the Sanctuary, 
and when the priest, pointing to the prohibitory 
decree, tried to prevent his entrance to the Temple, 
he asked, mockingly, if he was not as pure as 
the son of the high priest, who was murdered 
there ? 

The people paid the expiatory money for seven 
years, when, from some cause, they were freed 
from their burden. The disfavour into which the 
Judsean nation had fallen with the last Persian 
king, was turned to account by their malevolent 
neighbours. The Samaritans, after injuring them 
to their utmost power, appear to have regained 
by force or cunning the border lands, Ramathaim, 
Apherema and Lydda, which they had formerly 
been obliged to quit. The Judaeans were 
at this time all compelled to fight for their 
existence. Few and brief had been the glimpses 
of light which had brightened the annals of 
the Judsean Community during the last two 
hundred years ! This light had illumined the first 
enthusiastic days of the return from captivity 
during the reign of Darius, who showered favours 
upon them, and during the time of Nehemiah's pre- 
sence and zealous activity at Jerusalem. With these 
exceptions their lot was oppression, poverty and 
pitiable helplessness. They appear to us in their 
sadness and misery to be ever asking with tearful, 
uplifted eyes, '' From whom shall help come to 


US,'' and traces of this helplessness and misery are 
visible in the writin^sfs that have come down 
from that period. While the exile lasted, the grief 
and the longing, which kept the captives in constant 
and breathless expectation, had brought forth the 
fairest blossoms of prophecy and poetry; but as 
soon as the excitement ceased, and hope became a 
reality, the mental and poetical activity diminished. 
The later prophetical utterances, if beauty of 
form be considered, cannot bear comparison with 
those of the Captivity. The poetry of the Psalms 
became weak and full of repetitions, or else bor- 
rowed the bloom of older productions. The grace- 
ful idyl of the book of Ruth forms an excep- 
tion to the literature of this period. Historical 
writings were from easily explained causes com- 
pletely neglected. Ezra and Nehemiah had only 
given a short and unpolished account of the occur- 
rences they had witnessed. Quite at the end of 
this epoch, towards the close of the Persian do- 
minion, it appears that a Levite compiled a his- 
torical work (Chronicles), narrating the events from 
the Creation down to his own time. During the 
life of the author of the annals, or shortly after he 
had finished his history, a new period dawned, 
which gave rise to fresh mental exertions among 
the Judseans, and brought forth proofs of their 
capacity and worth. 

This new period was ushered in by the Greeks. 
They wrought a thorough change in the manners, 
customs and thoughts of other nations, and ma- 
terially raised the scale of civilisation among the 
various peoples then known in the world. The 
diffusion of this civilisation, however, which was the 
consequence of the acquisition of political power 
and widespread conquest^ was owing, not to a 
purely Greek race, but to a mixed people of Greeks 
and Barbarians, namely, the Macedonians. The 
grace and charm of the Greeks have caused their 


faults to be leniently regarded by mankind, but they 
were not overlooked by the Ruler of the world, and 
their sins brought retributive punishment upon them. 
Advantage was easily taken of their mutual jea- 
lousies, their many foibles, their restless, unruly 
disposition, and Greece was apt to follow the 
example set to it by its rulers, and fall a prey to 
any ambitious leader who was an adept in the art 
of intoxicating flattery, lavish with his gold, and 
supported by martial force. Such was the case 
with Philip, king of Macedon, who dazzled all 
with his cunning and his wealth, his valour and 
his army. All Greece lay at his feet, but petty 
feelings of jealousy continued to exist among 
the people, and to counteract any common 
action. The king proposed, as a satisfaction to 
their national pride, that a war should be under- 
taken against Persia, in which they might at once 
punish the latter for inroads upon their country, 
and win fame and booty for themselves. Some of 
the States were not to be influenced, and refused to 
send delegates to the assembly; whilst other States, 
or their representatives, had to be bribed to give 
their consent to the proposed plan. Philip's pro- 
ject of war against Persia was cut short by the 
hand of an assassin. Then appeared his son, the 
great Alexander, who was destined to remodel en- 
tirely the relations of the various countries, and to 
draw the peaceful inhabitants of Judaea into the 
vortex of the great world conflicts. New troubles 
and new trials were brought upon the Judaean people 
by the convulsions suffered from one end of the 
known world to the other. A Judsean seer com- 
pared Alexander to a leopard endowed with the 
wings of an eagle. In two battles he gave to the 
rotten Persian monarchy Its death blow; Asia 
Minor, Syria, and Phoenicia lay at his feet, and 
kings and princes, attired in all their pomp, did 
homage to the conqueror. Tyre and Gaza, the one 


after a seven months', the other after a two months' 
siege, were both taken (August and November, 
332), and met with a cruel fate. 

How did the insignificant dominion of Judaea fare 
under the invincible hero before whom Egypt, the 
proud land of the Pharaohs, had fallen humbly 
prostrate? The historical records of those times 
have only come down to us in the form of legends, 
and consequently give us no authentic account 
of the passing events. Doubtless, the Judseans 
were not .prevented from doing homage to Alex- 
ander through fear of incurring any guilt by break- 
ing their oath to their Persian rulers. It is not 
even certain that an oath of fealty had actually 
been taken, but even in such case, the Judseans, 
after the manner in which they had been treated by 
the last Persian kings, would not have felt much 
remorse in breaking it. There is no doubt that the 
story of Alexander's vision, and the favours which 
he consequently heaped upon the Judseans, rests 
upon a legend. The High Priest, so it is related, 
dressed in his holy garments, followed by a troop 
of priests and Levites, went forth to meet the 
youthful warrior, and produced so great and extra- 
ordinary an effect upon him, that his anger was at 
once changed into kindness and good will. The 
explanation given by Alexander to his followers 
was that the High Priest thus attired had appeared 
to him in a dream which he had in Macedonia, 
and had promised him victory. According to one 
legend, it was the High Priest Jaddua, according 
to another, his grandson Simon, who produced this 
effect upon the Macedonian hero. In reality, the 
meeting between Alexander and the envoys of the 
Judaean community no doubt passed simply and 
naturally enough. The High Priest, perhaps 
Onias I., Jaddua' s son and Simon's father, went 
forward with a suite of the elders, like the kings 
and princes around, to do homage and swear alle- 


glance to the conqueror. Alexander was of a noble 
and generous disposition, often punishing cruelly 
any resistance to his will, but leaving to all nations 
who accepted his sway the enjoyment of their pro- 
perty, their customs and their religion. He did 
not force the Grecian^ faith on any nation, and the 
favour which he granted to other nations, he cer- 
tainly did not deny to the Judseans. They were 
only obliged to pay the Macedonian governor the 
same tribute from their land as the Persian satrap 
had received. 

The first interview between the representatives 
of Greece and Judaea, two peoples who in different 
ways were both to forward civilisation, was of a 
friendly description. The one advanced in all his 
glory and might, the other in his weakness and 
humility. Judaea became part of a province, which 
was bounded on the north by Mount Taurus and 
Mount Lebanon, and on the south by Egypt, and 
was called Lower Syria (Coelesyria), to distinguish it 
from the Higher Syria, which lay in the neighbour- 
hood of the Euphrates. The Governor of this exten- 
sive province, which had formerly been divided into 
many independent states, resided in Samaria, which 
must consequently have been a fortified and popu- 
lous town. Samaria, however, was indebted for 
this preference or dangerous elevation to its central 
position, and to the great fertility of its soil. Andro- 
machos was the name of the governor whom Alex- 
ander placed over the Coelesyrians. Why were the 
Samaritans displeased with this apparent distinc- 
tion ? Did they feel themselves hampered in their 
movements by the presence of the Governor, or was 
their anger roused by jealousy at the favour shown 
by Alexander to the Judaeans, whom they hated 
so bitterly ? The violent resentment of the Samari- 
tans, or at least of their leaders, went so far, that 
heedless of the consequences, they rose up against 
Andromachus, seized him and consigned him to the 


flames (331). Alexander's wrath, upon hearing of 
this act of atrocity which had been committed upon 
one of his generals, was as great as it was just. 
Had this small, insignificant people dared to defy 
one who had subdued all Egypt, the proud priests 
of which country had prostrated themselves before 
him, proclaiming his pre-eminence and his glory? 
Upon his return from Egypt, while hastening to 
conquer Persia, he hurried to Samaria to avenge 
the murder of Andromachus. The authors of the 
horrible deed were put to death under cruel tor- 
tures, another governor called Memnon was placed 
over Samaria, and the town was filled with Mace- 
donians. In various other ways, Alexander appears 
to have mortified and humiliated the Samaritans, 
and knowing that they were enemies of the Judse- 
ans, he favoured the latter in order to mark his dis- 
pleasure towards the former. Several border lands 
lying between Samaria and Judaea, which had often 
occasioned strife between the two people, he awarded 
to the Judaeans, and likewise freed the latter from the 
burden of taxation during the Sabbath year. This 
favour, of small importance to him who gave it, 
was a great boon to those who received it, and in- 
flamed the hatred of the Samaritans against the 
Judaeans ; every windfall seemed to add new fuel to 
their enmity, which, however, as long as Alexander 
lived, they were obliged to conceal. His wonder- 
fully rapid and victorious campaigns— as far as the 
Indus and the Caucasus — seemed to throw a spell 
over the world, and to paralyse all independent 
action. When he was not at war, peace reigned 
supreme, from Greece to India, and from Ethiopia 
to the shores of the Caspian sea. Alexander was 
the first conqueror who deemed it a wise policy to 
allow the peculiar customs of any conquered nation 
to be maintained ; he insisted that respect should 
be shown to their various religions and forms of 
worship. In Egypt he honoured Apis and Ammon, 


and in Babylon the gods of Chaldsea. Thus he de- 
termined upon raising up the Temple of the Baby- 
lonian idol Bel, which had been thrown down by 
Artaxerxes. To accomplish this, he ordered his 
soldiers to clear away the ruins which had accumu- 
lated over the foundations of the building. All 
obeyed with the exception of the Judaeans who, 
either voluntarily or by compulsion, were serving in 
his army. They refused their help towards the re- 
construction of the idolatrous temple. Naturally 
enough, their disobedience received severe chastise- 
ment from their superior officers, but they bore 
their punishment bravely, rather than comply with 
an order which demanded the transgression of one 
of the principal injunctions of their faith. When 
Alexander heard of this case of conscience and of 
the religious fortitude displayed by the Judaean 
soldiers, he was generous enough to grant them his 
pardon. But in that incident we may read an 
omen of the conflicts which were to take place be- 
tween Judaism and the spirit of Greece. 

In the midst of his vast undertaking — that of 
uniting the whole world into one monarchy — the 
young hero died {32;^), leaving no lawful heir 
to his throne, no successor to his great mind. Con- 
fusion appeared in all parts of the earth, as well as 
among the armies of Alexander. All law, even 
that of Nature, seemed upset, so that the alterna- 
tions of day and night seemed no longer a fixed 
law, and fearful battles, which resembled the 
wars of the Titans, ensued. Alexander's warriors, 
who had learnt experience on a thousand battle- 
fields, would, had they only been united, have been 
capable of keeping together the structure of the 
Macedonian kingdom ; but, although they were not 
actually Greeks, and even looked down upon the 
latter, they shared their spirit of insubordination, 
their want of discipline, and their passion for self- 
advancement, which greatly surpassed their zeal for 


the good of the State. Like the Greeks, they 
coveted power as a means to obtain luxuries and 
enable them to indulge in licentious pleasures ; in 
short, they had become adepts in all their moral 

The consequence of this state of things was 
the breaking asunder of the Macedonian king- 
dom and its division among the contending 
leaders. Ptolemy I. Soter, son of Lagos, reigned 
in Egypt. Through a successful war he ac- 
quired Coelesyria, together with Judaea. In 320, 
he demanded the surrender of Jerusalem, but its 
inhabitants refused to open their gates. On a 
sabbath, however, he contrived to surprise the city, 
and, as the Judseans did not use their arms on that 
day, he was able to seize the city and to make 
numerous prisoners, whom he carried away to 
Egypt. Many Samaritans shared their fate, pro- 
bably because they had likewise attempted resist- 
ance. Both Judseans and Samaritans could have 
enjoyed happiness — at least, as much happiness as 
those hard, cruel times allowed to any one — had 
they remained subjects of the Lagidian Ptolemy, 
who was the gentlest of the military followers of 
Alexander. He also knew how to recognise and 
appreciate merit, and when his own interests were 
at stake, he could be just and merciful ; but Ptole- 
maeus had no acknowledged right to the possession 
of Coelesyria. His acquisition of those lands had 
not been confirmed by the various rulers of the 
kingdom who followed each other in rapid suc- 
cession, and who kept up the semblance of a 
united government. Ptolemy roused the envy of 
the confederate captains, and in particular that of 
one of his former allies and fellow-conspirators, 
Antigonus. This bold soldier was endowed with 
an inventive genius and a fiery nature, and had re- 
solved upon the subjection of all his associates, in 
order to seize and hold the whole kingdom of 


Macedonia in his own strong hand. After many 
years of warlike preparations, a decisive battle 
at last took place between Demetrius, the son 
of Antigonus, and Ptolemy, which ended disas- 
trously for the former. The battle of Gaza, fought 
in the spring of 312, was a memorable one, for 
from that event the power of Seleucus, who had 
come as a fugitive to Ptolemy, may be said 
to have commenced. Likewise this period was 
also noteworthy because of the new computation 
of time, called Seleucidsean Greek, which also 
came into use among the Judseans, and was long 
observed by them. In consequence of the defeat 
at Gaza, Demetrius was obliged to withdraw to 
the north, leaving the whole country to the con- 
queror. Only a short time elapsed, however, be- 
fore Antigonus and his son, having joined their 
forces, compelled Ptolemy to retreat into Egypt. 
He caused the fortified sea-coast and inland cities, 
Acco, Joppa, Gaza, and Jerusalem to be demolished, 
so that they should not become places of refuge for 
his enemies, and Judaea, with the countries that be- 
longed to Coelesyria, remained in this unguarded 
condition until, in a battle at Ipsus, in Asia Minor 
(301), fought against the united armies of Ptole- 
my, Lysimachus, Cassander, and Seleucus, An- 
tigonus lost at one blow both his glory and his life. 
The four generals divided the kingdom between 
themselves. Ptolemy received Egypt and the ad- 
joining lands, and the greater part of Asia fell to 
Seleucus. Thus Judsea became a portion of the 
Ptolemsean or Lagidian kingdom, and its fate for 
a time was linked to the latter. The condition of 
the Judseans, however, underwent no material 
change. The tribute they had been obliged for- 
merly to pay to the Persian monarch was now 
demanded by the Egyptian-Macedonian Court. 
The freedom and independence of their movements 
and actions were not more restricted than they had 


hitherto been ; on the contrar}^, their situation 
might be considered rather improved than other- 

In Judsea, the high priest, who was answerable for 
the payment of taxes, was considered as the poli- 
tical chief, and was looked upon as a sacerdotal 
prince. Ptolemy I. was endowed with a gentle 
nature, and inclined to benefit his subjects. He 
had neither any desire nor motive to oppress the 
Judaeans. Alexandria, the seaport city founded 
by Alexander, and considered as the capital of his 
kingdom by the first Egyptian-Macedonian monarch, 
acquired a large population, and it could only be a 
source of satisfaction to him to see Judaeans from 
the neighbouring country establishing themselves 
there. Under Alexander many Judaeans. had already 
settled in that city, and, as this far-seeing hero 
had given the same Macedonian rights to all 
comers, the first Judsean colony in Alexandria en- 
joyed perfect equality with its other inhabitants, 
and led a peaceful existence in the new land. A 
great number of Judaeans took up their abode there 
during the disturbed state of their country, caused 
by the wars of Antigonus ; they also received from 
Ptolemy protection and the enjoyment of equal 
laws and rights. And thus arose an Egyptian - 
Judaean community, which was destined to fulfil a 
peculiar mission. In other places also Judaean 
colonies were formed. Assured of the goodwill of 
the Judaeans, Ptolemy distributed them among the 
various Egyptian cities and in Cyrene. 

Seleucus, the founder of the Seleucidaean king- 
dom, the centre of which was situated in Persia, 
had likewise become possessor of the northern part 
of Syria, where he founded a new city, Antioch, 
which became his capital. In order to people this 
city, as well as other newly-built towns, he was 
obliged to bring inhabitants into them, and among 
these partly forced and partly willing settlers, were 




many Judseans, to whom Seleucus gave the full ^! 

rights of Macedonian citizenship. And, as Judsean ^ 

colonies arose in the Greek- Macedonian countries, I 

so also Greek colonies formed themselves upon j 

Judaean ground. Along the Mediterranean coast j 

new seaports were built, or old ones enlarged and • i 

embellished, and to these Grecian names were i 

given. I 




Condition of the Judseans under the Ptolemies — Simon effects Im- 
provements — His Praises are Sung by Sirach — His Doctrines 
— The Chassidim and Nazirites — Simon's Children — Onias II. 
and the Revolt against Egypt— Joseph, son of Tobias — His 
Embassy to Alexandria — He is appointed Tax-collector — War 
between Antiochus the Great and Egypt — Defeat of Antiochus — 
Inroad of Greek Manners into Judsea — Hyrcanus — The Song of 
Songs — Simon II. — Scopas Spoils Jerusalem — The Contest 
between Antiochus and Rome — Continued Hellenization of the 
Jud^ans — The Chassidim and the Hellenists — Jose ben Joezer 
and Jose ben Jochanan — Onias III. and Simon — Heliodorus — 
Sirach's Composition against the Errors of his Time. 

300-175 B.C. 

For more than a century after the death of Nehe- 
miah, the Judaean nation might have been repre- 
sented in its inner life under the form of a 
caterpillar, which covers itself with . a web in order 
to weave threads from the juices of its own body, 
and in its outer life under the form of a martyr, 
bearing insult and humiliation alike in silence. 
Until that date it had not produced any one 
man, who by his own strong individuality could 
be regarded as the great author of a new move- 
ment; no one had arisen capable of giving the 
Judaeans direction and enthusiasm. The stimulus 
for development and improvement had always come 
from without, from the principal men of Persia or 
Babylon. But now the people were separated from 
their co-religionists of those lands in consequence 
of new political circumstances. The Judaeans of 
the Euphrates and the Tigris could no longer carry 
on an active intercourse with their brethren in the 


mother country. For the reigning dynasties, the 
Seleucidae and the Ptolemies, looked upon one 
another with suspicion, and frequent visits of the 
Judseans from the province of the Seleucidse, to 
the Judseans of Jerusalem, would have been un- 
favourably regarded in Alexandria. Had the 
nation not been able to rouse itself in its own 
country without extraneous help, it would have 
been lost ; a people which cannot exist or improve 
of itself must sooner or later fall into insignifi- 
cance. But the right man arose at the right time. 
He saved the Judaean community from its fall. This 
man was Simon the Just (about 300-270). In an 
age deficient in great men, he appears like a lofty 
and luxuriant tree in the midst of a barren country. 
Legendary lore has seized upon his name, and has 
added the marvellous to history. It is always a 
favourable testimony to an historical personage 
and to the influence he wields over a large circle, 
when tradition gives her voice in his favour. If 
authentic history does not tell us much of Simon I., 
still the few characteristics preserved to us portray 
him as a man of great distinction. He was more- 
over the one high priest of the house of Joshua ben 
Jozedek, of whom there was anything laudatory to 
relate, and the only high priest who restored the 
priesthood to honour. Under his care the nation 
could not collapse. He rebuilt the walls of Jeru- 
salem which had been demolished by Ptolemy I., and 
he repaired the ravages of two centuries upon the 
Temple. He also carried out various measures 
for the safety and improvement of the capital. 
Amongst others he improved the several springs 
in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, whose supply 
of water would be insufficient in an unusually dry 
year, besides which the Temple required water in 
copious quantities. To meet these requirements, 
Simon caused a large reservoir to be excavated 
below the Temple, which was fed by a subterranean 

FF 2 


canal, and brought a constant supply of fresh 
water from the springs of Etam. Thus there was no 
fear of drought, even in case of a siege. The poet, 
Joshua (Jesus) Sirach, who lived at a later date, 
gives us an enthusiastic description of Simon : — 

" How was he honoured in the midst of the people in his coming 
out of the Sanctuary ! He was as the morning star in the midst of 
a cloud, and as the moon at the full. 

"As the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, and as the 
rainbow giving light in the bright clouds. 

" When he put on the robe of honour, and was clothed with the 
perfection of glory .... compassed with his brethren round about, 
as a young cedar in Lebanon." (Ecclus. 1. 5-12.) 

Not only was Simon the Just recognised in his 
office of high priest as head of the Community and 
of the Supreme Council, but he was also the chief 
teacher in the house of learning. He inculcated 
this maxim upon his disciples : The world, i.e.^ the 
Judaean community, subsists on three things, the 
Law, the service in the Temple, and acts of love 
(Aboth i. 2). One m.ay also ascribe to this remark- 
able man some share in the following saying of one 
of his most distinguished pupils, Antigonus of 
Socho, *' Be not like those slaves, who serve their 
master for their daily subsistence, but be rather like 
the servants who faithfully serve their master without 
expectation of reward." Although Simon the Just 
attached great importance to the sacrificial rites, 
still he did not approve of the excessive zeal which 
was creeping into the community, and he did not 
try to conceal his disapprobation. There were 
amongst the nation, some over-pious people who 
took the vows of the Nazirite ; they refrained from 
wine for a given time, and called themselves, or 
were called, the strictly pious, Chassidim. When 
the time of their probation had expired, they 
shaved off their hair and fulfilled all the sacrifices 
prescribed by law. Perhaps the Greeks, whose 
great love of pleasure found expression in their 



numerous feasts and orgies, may have been a 
warning to the Judaeans, and may have induced them 
to seek self-mortification. It is certain that as the 
number of mere pleasure- seekers increased in 
Judaea, so did also that of the Chassidim. But 
Simon the Just was not pleased with this ultra zeal, 
and took no part in the sacrifices of the Nazirites. 

Posterity has formed so exalted an opinion of 
Simon's character, that his death has been looked 
upon as one of the concluding chapters of an 
historical period. Sad and terrible times, partly 
brought about by his own descendants and causing 
fresh trials to the Judseans, followed upon his death. 
Simon the Just left two children, a young son and a 
daughter. The latter was married to Tobiah, a 
somewhat distinguished man of priestly descent. 
The son, Onias, being too young to officiate as 
High Priest, a relative, named Manasseh, repre- 
sented him during his minority. The rule of 
Onias II. became a turning-point in the history of 
the Judseans. The constant warfare carried on for 
years between the rival houses of the Seleucidse 
and the Ptolemies affected the fate of Judsea. 

Coelesyria and Judaea had long remained loyal to 
Egypt, but the fourth king of the Seleucidse, Antio- 
chus Callinicos, instigated these provinces to revolt, 
and even tried to inveigle Onias II., the high priest 
and leader of the Judseans, into an open alliance. 
At this time Onias was refusing to pay the annual 
tax of twenty talents to the Ptolemies, a refusal 
that gave great offence at the Egyptian court. 
For although the sum was small, .the payment was 
looked upon as a mark of submission. Ptolemy 
II., after vainly demanding the tribute money, 
threatened to divide the province amongst various 
foreign colonists. He despatched one of his own 
favourites, Athenion, as special envoy to Jerusalem. 
The Judseans in alarm and despair entreated 
Onias to submit, but he resisted their prayers. 


When matters had come to this crisis, there 
suddenly appeared upon the scene, a man, Joseph 
by name, of extraordinary strength of will and 
purpose. He was the nephew of Onias, and son of 
the Tobiah who had married the daughter of Simon 
the Just. Fascinating in his manners, clever, 
cunning, and unscrupulous, the son of Tobiah 
seemed born to govern. Unfortunately for himself, 
Onias, the high priest and ruler of the State, stood 
in his path. But now was the moment, as he 
thought, to remove the obstacle. As soon as 
Joseph was told of the arrival of the Ptolemaic 
envoy in Jerusalem, and of his threatening message, 
he hastened from his birth-place to that city, loaded 
his uncle Onias with reproaches at having led his 
people into danger, and finding the high priest 
determined in his resistance, he offered to go 
himself to Alexandria, there to commence negotia- 
tions with the king of Egypt. As soon as Onias 
had empowered him to do so, Joseph assembled the 
people in the court of the Temple, soothed their 
excited feelings, and made them ' understand that 
they w^ere to place entire confidence in him, for that 
he was in a position to avert the danger that threat- 
ened them. The whole assembly offered him their 
grateful thanks, and made him leader of the people 
(about 230). From that moment, Joseph displayed 
so much decision, that it was evident a plan had long 
been ripening in his brain. He was well aware of 
the weakness of the Greeks, and knew that they 
were not indifferent to flattery or to the luxuries of 
the table. So he prepared tempting banquets for 
Athenion, fascinating him by his charm of manner, 
making him costly presents, and assuring him that 
he might return to Egypt, secure of the tribute 
money, which he promised should be paid to the 
king. As soon as the envoy had left Jerusalem, 
Joseph entered into negotiations with some 
Samaritan friends, or money-lenders, to obtain a 


loan for his necessary expenses. In order to 
appear with dignity at the Egyptian court, he 
required splendid apparel, brilliant equipages, and 
money to defray the cost of his entertainments. 
Joseph had no means of his own, and in all Judaea 
there was no one who could advance him large 
sums of money. The people supported themselves 
by agriculture, they were not engaged in commerce 
and at that time had no opportunity of amassing 

Furnished with the means of making a great 
display at court, Joseph hurried to Alexandria, 
where the envoy Athenion had already prepared a 
favourable reception for him. Ptolemy Euergetes 
was anxiously expecting him, and was not disap- 
pointed when he arrived. He was enchanted with 
Joseph's bearing and address, and invited him to be 
his guest at the royal table. The envoys from the 
Palestinian and Phoenician cities, who formerly had 
derided his simple appearance, now remarked with 
envy upon his presence at court. He soon gave 
them occasion not only to envy but also to hate 
him. For by a crafty stroke, he managed to obtain 
a position of great trust, that of head tax-gatherer 
or satrap of Coelesyria and Phoenicia. The king 
gave him a force of two thousand soldiers, who 
were, if necessary, to lend their aid in the execution 
of his duties, and Joseph became in reality the 
governor of all Palestine. He was respected and 
feared as a favourite of the king, and he therefore 
ventured to levy taxes with extreme severity. In 
the cities of Gaza and Beth-Shean (Scythopolis) the 
Greek inhabitants ventured to load him with bitter 
reproaches, and to offer resistance. In return he 
beheaded the noblest and richest of the citizens, 
and confiscated their possessions to the Egyptian 
crown. For twenty-two years, Joseph held the 
post of satrap, and spent that time in amassing 
extraordinary wealth and attaining great power. 


After the death of Euergetes (223), his successor, 
Ptolemy VI., Philopator, (222-206,) retained him in 
office. He continued to act in the same heartless 
way, causing the following remark to be made in 
the presence of Philopator: — ** Joseph is stripping 
the flesh from all Syria, and is only leaving the 

However, his lucky star seemed about to wane ; 
for the Seleucidsean king, Antiochus, called by his 
flatterers The Great (223-187), attempted to wrest 
the province of Coelesyria from Egypt (218). The 
commencement of the attack augured success. The 
Egyptian commanders were treacherous, they went 
over to the enemy, and betrayed the garrisons 
into their hands. Judaea and Jerusalem, under 
the satrapy of Joseph, remained true to Egypt. 
But how long would they be able to resist an 
attack of the Seleucidean army ? And which side 
should Joseph take ? He must have lived through 
that time in the most painful anxiety. At last the 
decisive hour struck. In the spring of 2 1 7, Antiochus 
appeared on the sea-coast near Gaza. He was 
at the head of a large army, composed of various 
nationalities. His direction was south, towards 
Egypt. Meanwhile, Philopator had roused himself 
from his life of ease and self-indulgence, and was 
advancing to meet his enemy, near Raphia. An- 
tiochus, over-confident of success, sustained a se- 
vere defeat, and was obliged to return to Antioch, 
and give up the possession of Coelesyria. All the 
cities and communities that had been under his 
rule outbid one another in flattery and in submis- 
sion to the conqueror, Philopator. Joseph remained 
in his position of trust, and continued to be the 
favourite of the Egyptian king. Through him, 
and through his connection with the Court life of 
Philopator, a complete change had taken place in 
the Judsean nation, which was less visible in the 
provinces, but most striking in the capital. 


By means of the immense riches that Joseph 
had accumulated, a real shower of gold had fallen 
upon the country; *' he had raised the people out 
of poverty and needy circumstances into ease and 
comfort." In order to collect the taxes of so 
many different towns, he was obliged to have re- 
sponsible agents, and he preferred choosing them 
from amongst his own people. These agents en- 
riched themselves in their own way, and bore them- 
selves proudly. Joseph and his immediate belong- 
ings were elated by the consideration he enjoyed 
at the Egyptian Court, owing to his quickly-gained 
wealth, and the troop of soldiers always at his 
command, by whose help he held in check the 
people of various nationalities in Palestine, the 
remnant of the Philistines, the Phoenicians, Idu- 
mseans, and even the Greek-Macedonian colonists. 
The horizon of the Judseans, particularly of those 
who lived in Jerusalem, widened as they came into 
contact with the Greeks. Their taste became more 
refined, their dwellings more beautiful, and they 
began to introduce the art of painting. The Judeeans 
who lived in Alexandria, who had been for a century 
under Greek influence, and had, to a certain extent, 
become hellenized, now brought their influence to 
bear upon their fellow-countrymen, but the sim- 
plicity of the Judsean habits and customs suffered 
in consequence. 

A shower of gold does not always have a fruit- 
ful, but sometimes a desolating or deteriorating 
effect; and so it was in this case. The rich up- 
starts lost all balance ; they not only gave im- 
portance to the possession of riches, and pre- 
ferred money-making to any other occupation, but 
they became blind admirers of the Greeks. They 
soon acquired their extravagant habits and frivolous 
customs, to the deterioration of their own national 
virtues. The Greeks loved society beyond any- 
thing. They indulged in the most unruly merry- 


making at their repasts, which they took at a 
common table. The Judaeans imported the custom 
of the public meal, but reclined on couches whilst 
they ate and drank, and introduced wine, music, 
and song at their entertainments. All this was 
innocent enough ; but unfortunately it led to more 
than merely making life brighter. Greek frivolity 
and extravagance drew their imitators rapidly into 
a vortex of dissipation. 

Joseph was constantly at the court of Ptolemy 
Philopator, when business took him to Alexandria. 
This court was a sink of depravity. The days 
were spent in revelry, and the nights in shameless 
debauchery ; the prevailing depravity led astray 
both the people and the army. 

Philopator entertained the absurd belief that his 
ancestors were descended from the God of Wine, 
Dionysus (Bacchus); and he considered himself 
obliged to introduce bacchanalian revelries into 
his kingdom. Anyone wishing to ingratiate him- 
self with the king and his boon companions was 
forced to belong to the fraternity of Dionysus. 
Whenever Joseph was called to Alexandria he 
enjoyed the doubtful honour of being invited to 
the king's orgies, and of being received by the 
followers of the God of Wine. It was at such a 
feast that he actually contracted a violent passion •■ 
for one of those dissolute dancing-women, who 
never failed to be present upon these occasions. 

Jerusalem did not long remain untainted by those 
social impurities. Joseph, out of friendship, let us 
suppose, to his royal patron, introduced DIonysian 
festivals into Judaea. At the turning-point of the 
year, when winter is receding before spring, when 
the vine is shooting into blossom, and the wine is 
fermenting for the second time in the barrels, then 
the Greeks held their great festival to Dionysus : 
*'the festival of the barrel-openings." Two days 
were devoted to intoxicating orgies, when friends 


interchanged pitchers of wine as presents. He 
who drank most was most honoured. This festival 
of the *' barrel-opening " was now to be cele- 
brated in much the same way in Judaea. But, in 
order to dress this foreign custom in a Judsean 
garb, the rich made it an occasion for dispensing 
alms to the poor. Extravagance is always the 
companion of wild revelry. The rich Judseans soon 
copied the Greek custom, and, callous to shame and 
honour, they introduced singers, dancers, and dis- 
solute women at these festivals. A poetical writer 
raises a warning voice against the growing un- 
chastity of the age : — 

" Meet not with an harlot, lest thou fall into her snares. Use not 
much the company of a woman that is a singer, lest thou be taken 

with her attempts Give not thy soul unto harlots, that thou 

lose not thine inheritance." (Ecclus. ix. 3, seq.) 

The love of art and beauty which Joseph intro- 
duced into Judsea did not compensate for this loss 
of chastity and morality. Even earnest men, under 
Greek influence, began to cast doubts upon their 
old traditional belief. They questioned whether 
the teachings of Judaism were binding and true 
throughout, whether the Deity really demanded 
from man the denial of all self- gratification, and 
whether God really cared for the great world of 

The teachings of Epicurus, in which the shadow- 
like gods recommended self-indulgence to man, were 
well received by the deteriorated Greek- Macedo- 
nians, and particularly by the most distinguished 
Alexandrians. It was from that city that the 
poison spread to Judaea. Some Judseans of Jeru- 
salem indulged in metaphysical speculations, 
and began to look down upon the teachings of 
Judaism. These speculations might have taken 
some pronounced shape, had discord not broken 
out amongst the upstarts. Feelings of jealousy 
had sprung up between the seven sons of Joseph 


by his first marriage, and the youngest, Hyrcanus, 
the son of his second wife. He was distinguished 
in youth by his quick intellect, his ability, and 
his craft, characteristics that endeared him to his 
father. In the year 210, a son was born to the 
king Philopator. The different satraps of the 
cities of Coelesyria were anxious to express by 
presents and congratulations their feelings of 
affection to the Egyptian king. Joseph felt that 
he ought not to absent himself upon such an 
occasion. But his growing infirmities not allow- 
ing him to undertake such a journey, he asked one 
of his sons to represent him. Hyrcanus was the 
only one who felt equal to such a task, and his 
brothers unanimously requested their father to ac- 
cept his services. At the same time they did not 
scruple to throw out dark hints to their friends in 
Alexandria that they would not regret it if their 
brother were swept from their path. But Joseph's 
young son knew how to curry favour at Court. 
His extravagant gifts upon the great day of public 
congratulation — one hundred beautiful slaves to 
the king, and one hundred beautiful female slaves 
to the queen — threw the gifts of all others into 
the shade. His ready wit and adroit tongue soon 
made him a favoured guest at Philopator' s table. 
His visit drawing to a close, he returned to Jeru- 
salem, full of gratified vanity. But his perfidious 
brothers were lying in wait for him on the road, 
and determined to accomplish what the Alexan- 
drians had failed to do. If Hyrcanus was not 
forewarned, he was at least forearmed. He suc- 
ceeded in preserving his own life, but in doing so 
he killed two of his brothers. His father received 
him sternly enough, not on account of the unfor- 
tunate fate of his elder sons, but partly on account 
of his extravagance in Egypt, and partly out of 
jealousy at his extraordinary popularity. No 
wonder that Hyrcanus should not have remained 


in Jerusalem, but that he returned to Alex- 

Up to this time, discord had not troubled the 
nation at larg^e, or the people of Jerusalem, but 
had confined itself to the family of Joseph. No 
one could have imagined that the growing- enmity 
of the members of that house, and its Greek pro- 
clivities, would end by bringing misery upon the 
whole nation. The present seemed bright and 
sunny; prosperity had established a sure footing in 
the country, and offered the means for beautifying 
life. The neighbouring people acknowledged the 
political leader or satrap among the Judseans, and 
none ventured to attack the nation, nor to treat 
it with contempt. Judsea had not known so peace- 
ful a state of things since the age of Nehemiah. 

It was, therefore, not unnatural that a poem 
should have appeared at that time, shedding a rosy 
flush over the age, and anticipating happy and 
joyous days, in the form of a love song. 

A cloudless sky, green meadows, fragrant flowers, 
and, above all things, careless lightheartedness, 
play a great part in it. One would think that there 
were no more serious occupation in life than to 
wander over hills of myrrh, to repose among lilies, to 
whisper words of love, and to revel in the ecstasy 
of the moment. In this calm age, preceding a 
storm, the '* Song of Songs," (Schir-ha-shirim), was 
written. It was the offspring of careless, happy 
days. In it the Hebrew language proved its ca- 
pability of expressing tenderness and depth of sen- 
timent, of clothing thought in delicate strophe and 
antistrophe, and of painting the beauties of nature 
in poetic words. The author of this poem had 
been living in a Greek world, had refreshed him- 
self with the charm of its diction, and had tried to 
reproduce some of its fine touches. But beneath the 
veil of poetry he endeavoured to point reprovingly 
to the evils of the time. 


He created an ideal being — the beautiful shep- 
herdess, Sulamit, the daughter of Aminadab, in 
contradistinction to the unchaste and impure love 
of the Greek world. Sulamit loves her shepherd fer- 
vently and devotedly. But she is chaste and modest 
throughout, and is incapable of an impure thought 
or action. Her beauty is enhanced by her grace 
of movement, by her soft voice and gentle speech. 
As her eyes are like the dove's, so is her heart full 
of dove-like innocence. In somewhat florid lan- 
guage, but in the most exquisite poetry, the author 
of the Song of Songs, after singing the praises 
of Sulamit, denounces the superficial, sensual 
love that can be bought for money. He raises his 
voice against the unchastity of public dancers and 
singers, against enervating town life, and unmanly 

Joseph, the grandson of Simon the Just, died in 
the year 208, leaving his family torn by dissen- 
sion. His office of satrap naturally devolved upon 
one of his sons ; but Hyrcanus, the youngest, 
being the only one known and liked at the Egyp- 
tian Court, the preference was no doubt given to 
him. This fired the hatred of his brothers. They 
assumed a hostile position towards him upon his 
arrival in Jerusalem, and as Hyrcanus had a large 
number of followers, civil war seemed imminent. 
The high priest, Simon II., decided between the 
merits of the two parties. He sided with the el(Jer 
brothers, and Hyrcanus was again compelled to 
retreat to Alexandria. There he intended pleading 
his cause, but he could obtain no hearing at the 
Egyptian court. For his patron Philopator, had 
just expired (206), and Egypt in her turn became 
a prey to disorder. 

Two ambitious kings, tempted by the weakness 
of the house of Ptolemy, seized upon Egypt and 
her provinces, and divided them. These were An- 
tiochus the Great, of Syria, and Philip of Macedon. 


Joseph's eldest sons, or, as they were generally 
called, the Tobiades, out of hatred to their younger 
brother, Hyrcanus, determined to side with Anti- 
ochus against Egypt. They became the Seleucidaean 
party. They are described as traitors who were 
entirely absorbed by their feelings of envy and 
hatred, to the detriment of all patriotism. They 
opened the gates of Jerusalem to the Syrian king, 
and did homage to him. Consequently the party 
of the Ptolemies or of Hyrcanus was entirely 

Thus Judaea came under the rule of the Seleu- 
cidaean kings (203-202). But an -^tolian commander 
of hired troops, Scopas, undertook to oppose the 
Syrian conqueror. He soon overran the Jordanic 
and trans-Jordanic territories, causing terror 
amongst the Tobiades and their followers. Des- 
perately they struggled against their impending, 
doom, for the ^tolian Scopas gave no mercy. He 
took Jerusalem by storm, laid waste the city and 
the Temple, and killed many of those whom he 
looked upon as enemies. Numbers sought safety 
in flight. 

In order to secure the allegiance of the con- 
quered people, Scopas left a contingent in the 
fortress of Baris or Acra. But the re-conquest of 
Judaea and Coelesyria for the son of Ptolemy, the 
child Epiphanes, was not to be lasting. The Syrians 
now re-appeared on the scene. In the beautiful 
valley of Mount Hermon, near the mountain city 
of Panion, at the source of the Jordan, a wild and 
terrible battle was fought, in which Scopas and 
his troops were entirely routed. Judaea once again 
became a prey to civil wars ; she resembled a 
storm -tossed ship, flung violently from side to 
side, on which both parties inflicted the most 
deadly blows. 

Antiochus succeeded in re-conquering the greater 
part of the land, and then marched upon Jerusalem. 


The people, headed by the Synhedrim and the 
priests, came out to meet him, bringing- provisions 
for his troops and elephants. But the ^tolian con- 
tingent still held the fortress of Acra. Antiochus 
or one of his commanders, with the help of the Ju- 
dseans, undertook the siege of the fortress. The 
Seleucidsean king greatly valued the friendship of 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and gave orders to 
restore their city and rebuild their Temple. They 
were treated with much consideration, and were 
allowed to govern according to their own laws. 
The Judseans alone had the right of entering the 
Temple ; no one else was permitted to do so, no 
impurities were suffered to pollute it, and no un- 
clean animals were to be bred in Jerusalem. 

Antiochus remained in occupation of Ccelesyria, 
and therefore also of Judsea. But he kept a watchful 
eye upon Egypt and her neighbouring provinces, of 
whose conquest, under the rule of a boy-king, he 
felt assured. The Romans, free for action since 
the downfall of Carthage, formed a stumbling- 
block to his progress. Antiochus had secretly 
devised a plan of giving battle to the Romans, and 
of attempting the conquest of Asia Minor, Greece, 
and Egypt. But his indiscretion and lack of real 
genius led to his humiliation. He was defeated by 
the Romans (190), and was so completely crushed 
that he was obliged to give up part of his conquests 
in Greece and Asia Minor, besides the whole of 
his fleet. He had also to pay 15,000 talents an- 
nually, during twelve years, to the conqueror. He 
was constrained to send his son, Antiochus Epi- 
phanes, who was destined to leave a bloody mark 
upon the annals of Judaean history, to Rome, as 
a hostage. Severe was the penalty that Anti- 
ochus paid for having over-estimated the strength 
of the Seleucidaeans. In order to be able to pay 
the heavy indemnity, the Syrian kings robbed 
temples; this sacrilege made them odious, and 


fanned the hatred of the most patient amongst the 
people. Antiochus, surnamed the Great, met his 
death through one of these acts of rapine (187). 

His son was equally sacrilegious, and by his evil 
conduct and the returning strength and greatness 
of the Judsean nation, he helped to bring about 
the decadence and the fall of his own Seleucidsean 

The deterioration of the Judsean community, 
which began under Joseph's satrapy, increased 
rapidly during the constant struggle between the 
Seleucidaeans and the Ptolemies for the possession 
of Coelesyria. The leaders of the two parties were 
not particular as to the means they employed 
to forward their own cause, or to injure that 
of their antagonists. The friends of the Seleu- 
cidaeans were above all things determined to find 
allies amongst the neighbouring tribes. The 
Greeks, however, who colonised parts of Palestine, 
hated the Judseans, on account of all the humilia- 
tions they had suffered at the hands of the satrap 
Joseph. There were other antagonistic races be- 
sides ; the old enemies of the Judseans still existed 
in Judaea, recalling the warlike days of the Judges, 
and of David's reign. For the Idumseans and the 
Philistines were in possession of Judsean territory 
and occupied the ancient city of Hebron. Both. 
Idumseans and Philistines hated the Judseans, and 
made them feel this hatred upon every occasion, 
whilst in the north the Samaritans presented a 
warlike front. 

The Judseans fondly believed that they could put 
faith in the Greek colonists, and that the Greek- 
Macedonian rulers, commanders and officers, would 
enable them to guard against the hostile advances 
of their numerous foes or invaders. But in order 
to curry favour with the Greeks, it was necessary 
to endeavour to become like them in manners, 
customs and observances. Many Judaeans of Jeru- 



salem, Hellenlsed to all outward appearance, deter- 
mined upon educating the Judsean youth according 
to the Greek model. Thus they established races 
and contests in wrestling. The most distinguished 
and richest among the Judaeans belonged to 
this Greek faction, amongst others, Jesus (Joshua), 
the son of the high priest, who called himself 
Jason, and who was followed by many Aaronites. 
The party was led by the Tobiades, or sons and 
grandsons of Joseph the satrap. But the Law 
of the Judseans, the Torah, was sternly op- 
posed to all innovations ; it looked with horror 
upon the Greek fashion of appearing naked for 
the race, and had it been obediently followed it 
must have put an end to all Hellenization. The 
Greek party, however, determined to defy the Law 
and the arfcient customs of their forefathers. 

Complete incorporation with the pagan Greeks 
was their aim Of what use was the fence erected 
by Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Synhedrin round 
Judaism ? The Hellenists pulled it down, and 
tried to annihilate the very individuality of the 
Judsean people. 

If a nation is not quite demoralized, the excess 
of one party calls forth a corresponding excess 
on the opposing side. This is no uncommon 
case in history. Those Judseans who were looking 
with pain and horror upon the conduct of their 
co-religionists, grouped themselves into a strong 
party, clinging desperately to the Law and the 
customs of their fathers, and cherishing them as 
the apple of their eye. They were *'the com- 
munity of the pious," or Chassidim, a development 
of the Nazirites. Every religious custom was to 
them of inviolable sanctity. A more complete 
contrast than was presented by these two parties 
could hardly be imagined. They understood one 
another as little as if they had not been sons of the 
same tribe, people of the same nation. That which 


was the clearest wish of the Hellenists the Chas- 
sidlm condemned as a fearful sin ; they called its 
authors, *^ breakers of the Law," *' trespassers of 
the Covenant." Ag-ain, what was dear and sacred 
to the Chassidim, the Hellenists looked upon as 
folly, and denounced as a hindrance to the welfare 
and stability of the community. Amongst the Chas- 
sidim there were two noted teachers of the Law : 
Jose, the son of Joezer, of the town of Zereda, and 
Jose, the son of Jochanan of Jerusalem. They 
both founded schools. The one laid more value 
upon the theoretical study of the Law, the other 
upon the practical results of its teaching. Jose 
of Zereda taught his disciples : *' Let your house 
be a place of assembly for the w^ise men; let 
yourselves be covered with the dust off their feet ; 
drink in their words with thirst." Jose of Jeru- 
salem taught on the other hand, *' Let the door of 
your house be opened wide ; let the poor be your 
guests, and do not converse with women." 

Between the two widely opposed parties of 
the Hellenists and the Assidseans, the people at 
large remained neutral. They certainly took 
delight in the luxuries and refinements of life 
introduced by the Greeks, and they did not care to 
have their pleasures narrowed by the severe Chas- 
sidim ; at the same time they disapproved of the 
laxity of the Hellenists, they disliked breaking with 
the history of their past, obliterating it by an entire 
revolution. But the passionate warfare that existed 
between Hellenists and Chassidim, menacing with 
extinction one of the two parties, obliged those 
who were neutral to declare their colours. 

The Chassidim, or patriots^ were still supreme 
in their position of command in the community. 
At their head was Onias IIL, high priest, son of 
Simon IL He is described as being a remark- 
able man, of gentle character. But he was at 
the same time so great an enemy to wrongdoing, 

GG 2 


SO fervent a partisan of religious teaching, so | 
determined a defender of the Law, that he was : 
one of the most vehement opposers of all Hel- i 
lenistic practices, and the Hellenists accordingly 
hated him fiercely. His principal enemies, besides i 
the Tobiades, were three brothers, of a distin- ; 
guished Benjamite family, who resembled one \ 
another in audacity — Simon, Onias called Menelaus, 
and Lysimachus. They hated the high priest not ^ 
only on account of his constant opposition to their ; 
innovations, but also on account of his alliance 
with Hyrcanus, who was still suffering from the ; 
persecutions of his brothers and their followers. ' 

Hyrcanus was in great favour at the Egyptian ; 
court, and Ptolemy V. had given him a satrapy ; 
over a trans-Jordanic territory. Armed troops \ 
were probably at his disposal to help him in the ; 
discharge of his duties. The Judseans who colonised ; 
the province, may possibly have become his allies. ' 
By their aid he was able to levy contributions upon I 
the Arabs, or Nabatseans, of the provinces of ^ 
Hesbon and Med aba, as ruthlessly as his father ^ 
Joseph had once done in Coelesyria. In this way he i 
accumulated vast wealth. He erected a wonderful ] 
citadel of white marble, upon a rock near Hesbon, \ 
to all intents and purposes a fortress, but of ] 
surpassing beauty. He called this magnificent I 
palace Tyrus ; he surrounded it with a wide moat { 
of great depth, and constructed the gates of the 
outer wall of such narrow dimensions that they 
could only admit one person at a time. Hyrcanus 
spent several years in this mountain retreat, 
probably from i8i to 175. The surplus of the 
wealth accumulated by Hyrcanus was sent from 
time to time to the Temple in Jerusalem, so as to 
secure it from the rapacity of the heathen tribes. 

Simon, the Benjamite, held some kind of office 
in the Temple, where he strenuously opposed the 
high priest. Onias had only one course left open f 


to him ; he banished Simon from Jerusalem, and 
then, in order to stem the ever-growing anarchy in 
the city, he passed a similar sentence of exile upon 
the Tobiades. But by doing this he only added 
fresh fuel to the flames. Simon devised a dia- 
bolical scheme for wreaking vengeance upon his 
enemy. He repaired to the military commander of 
Coelesyria and Phoenicia, Apollonius, son of Thra- 
seius, and informed him that great treasures were 
hidden in the Temple of Jerusalem, not belonging 
to the Sanctuary, and consequently royal property. 
Apollonius lost no time in giving the king, Seleu- 
xCus yi, (187-175), information on this subject. 
N Seleucus thereupon sent his treasurer Heliodorus 
>^* to Jerusalem with orders to confiscate as royal pro- 
perty the treasures concealed in the Temple. Onias 
naturally resisted this unjust demand. Heliodorus 
then showed his royal warrant, and prepared to 
force his way into the sanctuary. Great was the 
consternation in Jerusalem at the thought of a 
heathen entering the Temple and robbing it of its 
treasures. However, by some means or other, this 
sacrilege did not take place. We are not told what 
means were employed, but tradition, full of pious 
love for the Temple of God, has given a miraculous 
colour to the whole proceeding. 

But Simon could not rest in his attempts to bring 
about the downfall of the hated high priest. He 
even had recourse to the aid of hired assassins. 
Fortunately, he was unsuccessful ; but Onias was 
now thoroughly alarmed. He determined to lay 
the real state of affairs before the king Seleucus, 
with an account of the conflicting parties and of 
the motives that induced Simon and the Tobiades 
to conspire against him, imploring the king's pro- 
tection and aid. He appointed his brother Joshua, 
or Jason, as his delegate, and repaired to Antioch. 
During his absence the Hellenists continued their 
aggressive conduct, eager to obtain the office of 


high priest for one of their own party. A high 
priest on their side would not only be master of the 
treasures in the Temple, but leader of the nation. 
He could insist upon the introduction of Greek 
customs, and his spiritual office would give him a 
show of right. The Hellenists were so demoralised 
that they held nothing sacred. 

These secret devices soon became known, and 
roused the indignation of many who clung to their 
old customs and traditionary teaching. Amongst 
these was a poet and writer of proverbs, Jesus 
Sirach by name, the son of Eleazer (200-176). He 
was prompted by the wrong-doing he witnessed in 
Jerusalem to write a book of pithy sayings, applica- 
ble to the evils of the age, and which might prove 
salutary to its Judaean readers. He was one of the 
last authors of poetical proverbs. He was familiar 
with the Law, the prophets, and other instructive 
and spiritual works, and he was a close reader of 
the older Book of Proverbs, imitating the style of 
that work, though without arriving at its graceful 

Sirach did not belong to the sterner Chassidim 
who refrained from all harmless pleasures, and who 
denounced others for enjoying them. On the con- 
trary, he was in favour of the social meal, enlivened 
by music and wine. To the disturbers of innocent 
merriment, whose dismal talk put an end to all 
gaiety, he addressed the following delicate, ironical 
rebuke : — 

" Speak, thou that art the elder, for it becometh thee, but with 
sound judgment, and shew not forth wisdom out of time. As a 
signet of an emerald set in a work of gold, so is the melody of music 
with pleasant wine.'' (Ecclus. xxxii. 3, 4, 6.) 

There were some over-pious Judaeans who con- 
demned the use of all medical skill and aid ; they 
insisted that as all maladies were sent from God, 
He alone could cure them. Sirach, therefore, ex- 
plained in his proverbs that, as the skill of the 


physician was undoubtedly a gift of God, it was not 
impious to call in the physician's aid in healing- the 

But all his power was brought into play in his 
attack upon the social and religious deterioration of 
his brethren, and in his painful avowal of their 
humiliation in the sight of the neighbouring peoples. 
Their social depravity occupied him more than 
their political oppression. Sirach stung the 
wealthy and the distinguished of the Hellenist 
party with barbed words. They were worshippers 
of Mammon ; they indulged in immodest practices; 
they chose the companionship of dancers, singers, 
and painted women, and he drew in no flattering 
colours the portraits of the daughters of Jerusalem. 

Sirach declared that the root of all this evil was 
the indifference of the Judseans to their sacred Law. 
His aim was to reinstate it in the hearts of the 
people. He touched upon another subject, a burn- 
ing question of the day. Many in Jerusalem, par- 
ticularly the most distinguished and the wealthiest, 
were anxious to substitute for the high priest Onias 
one of their own party, who might not be a de- 
scendant of Aaron. Was it necessary to restrict the 
priestly office to one family ? This question was 
being constantly mooted. Sirach' s proverbs are 
directed against the possibility of a revolution in 
the sacred order. 

By an enumeration of examples, taken from the 
history of the Judaean people, he endeavoured to 
show that obedience to the Law and to established 
rule entail happy consequences, but that disobe- 
dience must lead to fatal results. He gave a 
short account of illustrious and notorious per- 
sonages, dwelling upon their virtuous deeds or 
nefarious practices, as the case might be. He de- 
scribed the rising of the family of Korah against 
Aaron, their final destruction by fire, and the in- 
tensified glory of the high priest. This was a hint 


to his co-religionists that the zealous Hellenists 
should not provoke a repetition of Korah's punish- 
ment. He also dwelt upon the history of Phineas, 
Aaron's grandson, the third in glory, who was per- 
mitted to make reconciliation for Israel. 

He passed rapidly over the division of the two 
kingdoms and the depravity of the people, linger- 
ing upon the activity and energy of the prophets. 
He mentioned with loving recollection the names 
of Zerubbabel, the high priest Joshua, and Nehe- 
miah, in the days succeeding the Captivity. And 
at length he closed with a brilliant description of 
the high priest, Simon the Just, of his good deeds 
and the majesty of his priesthood. He was the 
ancestor of the family of the high priest and of the 
Tobiades, and his example was to be one of in- 
struction and of warning. But unfortunately the 
reign of anarchy was not over; dissensions were 
growing, and the Hellenists were bringing the 
Judaean nation to the brink of destruction. 



Antiochus Epiphanes — His Character — His Wars with Rome— He 
appoints Jason to the High Priesthood — Introduction of the 
(}reek Games — Jason sends Envoys to Tyre to take part in the 
Olympian Games — Affairs in Jerusalem — Antiochus invades 
Egypt — Report of his Death in Jerusalem — Antiochus attacks 
the City and defiles the Temple— His Designs against Judaism 
— His Second Invasion of Egypt — The Persecution of 4;he Ju- 
dseans — The Martyrs — Mattathias and his five Sons — Apelles 
appears in Modin— The Chassidim — Death of Mattathias and 
Appointment of Judas Maccabaeus as Leader — His Virtues — 
Battles against Apollonius and Heron — Antiochus determines 
to Exterminate the Judcean People — Composition and Object of 
the Book of Daniel — Victory of Judas over Lysias. 

175—166 B.C. 

There now appeared on the scene a royal per- 
sonage who seemed destined to increase the irre- 
pressible disorders in Judaea, and to bring greater 
misery upon the House of Israel than it had ever 
known before. This man was Antiochus Epiphanes, 
whom history has justly branded. He belonged to 
a class of men who have a double nature. He was 
a mixture of malice and of noble sentiments ; he 
was cunning and calculating, yet capricious, petty 
in great enterprises, and great in trivialities, so that 
even his contemporaries could not fathom his charac- 
ter, nor understand whether weakness of intellect 
or dissimulation prompted him to commit the ab- 
surdities by which he made himself ridiculous in 
the eyes of the people. Apparently coveting the 
name of " Epimanes," or the Madman, his early 
training encouraged him to lead an irregular life. 


He resided for thirteen years at Rome, whither his 
father had sent him as a hostao^e for the main- 
tenance of peace and for ensuring the payment 
of the costs of the war. Rome had just become 
the capital of the world. The Romans had 
conquered the Carthaginians, the Macedonians 
and the Syrians, and the Eternal City was in a 
state of transition, passing from the austere morals 
of the Catos to the wantonness of the Claudii. 
Debauchery and an unnatural desire for pleasure — 
the immorality of the Greeks — speedily took root 
there. But what Antiochus learnt principally at 
Rome, was a contempt of men and their cherished 
customs ; there also he acquired not only insolence, 
but a hardness of heart which ignores all com- 
passion, and malice, which not only prompts the 
sacrifice, but the torture of its object. 

Antiochus succeeded in obtaining permission to 
leave Rome, and to send there his nephew Deme- 
trius, son of the king Seleucus Philopator, as hostage 
in his place. He then returned to Syria, probably 
with the intention of dethroning his brother, but was 
frustrated in his design by Heliodorus, one of the 
court magnates, who had murdered Seleucus (175), 
and taken possession of the kingdom. It may be 
questioned, whether Antiochus was not implicated in 
this deed ; he was at that time tarrying by the way 
on his return to Athens. Eumenes, king of Per- 
gamum, his father's enemy, and Attalus (the brother 
of the latter) put the murderer Heliodorus to flight, 
and proclaimed Antiochus king of Syria and Asia. 
Thus Antiochus inaugurated his reign by craft and 
usurpation ; for Demetrius, now a hostage at Rome, 
was the rightful sovereign. The Romans favoured 
the usurper, for they hoped, by increasing the dis- 
sensions amongst the royal family, to bring about 
the fall of those kingdoms which still resisted their 
power. Antiochus, however, was desirous of foiling 
this stratagem of the Romans. A Judsean prophet 


thus graphically describes his accession to the 
throne : — 

" And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person to whom 
they had not given the honour of the kingdom ; but he shall come 
suddenly, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries. . . . And after 
the league made with him he shall work deceitfully ; for he shall 
come up and shall become strong, with a small people. Suddenly 
shall he come even upon the fattest places of the province ; and he 
shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers ; he 
shall scatter among them prey, and spoil, and substance." (Daniel 
xi. 21-24.) 

He also introduced into Antloch the Roman 
gladiators : these were prisoners of war or slaves, 
who were made to fight each other with arms until 
one succumbed or was killed. Antiochus had 
entirely banished from his soul the fear of God ; he 
neither reverenced the gods of his ancestors, nor 
any other god, for in his overbearing pride he 
considered himself omnipotent. The Judseans were 
now in the hands of this monster, who had a heart 
of stone, and scorned alike man and law, morality 
and religion. If peace had reigned in Judaea, the 
country might have escaped his notice, but the dis- 
cord which the Hellenists had excited there directed 
his attention towards the Judaean people and their 
land. The Greeks themselves requested his inter- 
ference in the internal affairs of Judaea, directing 
his notice to Hyrcanus, who, residing in his castle 
near Hesbon, collected the taxes from the Arabian 
and Moabite inhabitants of the land in the name of 
the king of Egypt; the Hellenist party, moreover, 
hated him as their enemy. Hyrcanus, who dreaded 
an ignominious death, committed suicide, and An- 
tiochus seized all his property. 

The Hellenists then carried out their long- 
cherished plan of divesting their other enemy, the 
high priest Onias, of his dignity. The brother of the 
latter, called Jesus or Jason, promised Antiochus a 
large sum, if he would transfer the dignity of high 
priest to him ; and the king was so greatly in want 


of money that he had no scruples In granting 
the request. He was, however, denounced as a 
partisan of the Ptolemies, and the accuser thus 
became the accused. The Hellenists, or rather the 
high priest, next petitioned Antiochus, that those 
Judaeans who were trained for the Greek combats 
should enjoy the rights of citizenship in An- 
tiochia and Macedonia, and be admitted to all 
public meetings and games. These games were 
always turned into sober earnest by the Greeks, for 
they considered them the aim and end of life. The 
Greeks who had settled In Palestine and Phoenicia 
strengthened the national tie of their common 
descent by introducing the Olympian games, every 
four years, into the land of the Barbarians, and the 
latter, who were allowed to take part In these 
games, felt themselves greatly honoured by asso- 
ciating with the Greek nobility. 

Jason and the Hellenists wished to obtain the 
right of citizenship for the Judaeans, and at the 
same time they introduced gymnasia into Jerusalem, 
hoping by this means to diminish the hatred and 
contempt which they excited. As soon as Antiochus 
had conceded this right to them, Jason took great 
interest in organising the exercises which were to be 
practised before the Judseans could take part in the 
Olympian games. The high priest selected (174) 
a site for the games in the Birah or Acra (Acro- 
polis) north-west of the Temple. It comprised a 
gymnasium for youth and an ephebelon for boys. 
Greek masters were most probably hired for teach- 
ing the Judaean men and youths their games, which 
consisted in racing, jumping, wrestling, in throwing 
discs and in boxing. It soon became evident, how- 
ever, that these games, which owed their origin to 
quite a different mode of life, were incompatible 
with Judaism. According to Greek custom, the 
men who took part in these contests were naked, 
the Judeean youths who consented to compete were 


therefore compelled to overcome their feeling- of 
shame, and appear naked before the assembled 
people, when by uncovering their bodies they were 
immediately recognised as Judaeans. Were they 
then to take part in the Olympian games, and 
to expose themselves to the mockery of the 
jeering Greeks? But even this difficulty they 
evaded by undergoing a painful operation, so 
as to disguise the fact that they were Judaeans. 
Youths soon crowded to the gymnasium, and the 
young priests neglected their duties at the Temple 
to take part in the exercises of the palaestra 
and the stadium. The pious saw with anxiety 
this adoption of foreign customs, but they held 
their peace. Meanwhile even Jason's confederates 
were dissatisfied with his leaning to Greek manners, 
as it soon led to the denial of the fundamental 
truths of Judaism. When the Olympian games 
were celebrated at Tyre (June, 172), sacrifices were 
offered up to the Greek god Hercules, the nominal 
founder of these combats. Jason then sent am- 
bassadors to Tyre, who were accustomed to these 
games, and entitled to take part in them, and, 
according to custom, they were entrusted with a 
subsidy (300 drachms, 3,300 ?) destined for sacrifices 
to be offered to Hercules. But the ambassadors, 
although Greek at heart, felt conscience-stricken at 
the manner in which this sum was to be employed ; 
it seemed to stamp them as idolaters, and to prove 
their belief in the divinity of a marble statue. They 
therefore accepted the commission on condition 
that they should be at liberty to devote the money 
they took with them to any other purpose, for the 
conception of God was still deeply rooted among 
the Judaeans, and even in the hearts of those men 
who were partial to the Greek customs and attached 
to the Hellenist party. Jason's ambassadors gave 
the money they had brought as a contribution to 
the fleet which Antiochus was fitting out at Tyre. 


Meanwhile the dissensions in Jerusalem increased 
to such a pitch that pernicious consequences 
could not fail to follow. The Hellenists were de- 
vising intrigues to overthrow Jason, and to have 
the office of high priest placed under their own 
control. They were impelled to this either by 
feelings of ambition, or by the fear that the brother 
of Onias was too much in favour of Judaism, and not 
sufficiently energetic, to overthrow the patriarchal 
customs. Onias Menelaus, a brother of Simon, 
.one of themselves, an unscrupulous man, who de- 
nounced Onias and the treasures in the Temple, was 
to be made high priest. Jason sent the annual 
contributions to the king through Menelaus, who 
promised to raise 300 talents more for Antiochus, if 
he were made high priest. He boasted of his great 
credit, which would enable him to further the king's 
cause more energetically than Jason. Antiochus 
did not scruple to transfer the dignity of the high 
priest to the highest bidder (172-17 1). He imme- 
diately sent Sostrates, one of his officers, with a 
troop of Cyprian soldiers, to Jerusalem, to subdue 
any opposition that might be made, and to watch 
over the punctual delivery of the promised sums. 
Sostrates placed the soldiers in the fortified Acra, 
to keep down the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and 
proclaimed the dismissal of Jason according to 
the king's order. The latter was either banished 
or he escaped from Jerusalem, whence he crossed 
over the Jordan into the land of the Ammonites. 
This district was governed by a Nabatsean prince, 
named Aretas, by whom he was most cordially 
received. This change only increased the dis- 
orders in Jerusalem ; the greater part of the people 
were indignant that Menelaus. who was a Benjamite, 
and not of the family of the high priests, and who 
besides, was known to be opposed to the patriarchal 
customs, should have been invested with that holy 
dignity. Even the admirers of Greek character 


and the lovers of novelty condemned the selection 
of Menelaus. 

Both the followers of Jason and those who did 
not wish to break entirely with Judaism disapproved 
of his dismissal. But the malcontents were com- 
pelled to be silent because they feared the presence 
of the Syrian officer and the Cyprian troops, which 
he commanded ; but great excitement prevailed in 
the minds of the people, which threatened to break 
forth at the earliest opportunity. Menelaus brought 
matters to a climax. He had promised the king 
more than he could give in payment for the dignity 
he had received. Antiochus was indignant, and 
summoned him to come and justify himself. He 
was therefore compelled to go to Antioch, and he 
left his brother Lysimachus, who was as little con- 
scientious as himself, to replace him ; he then took 
holy gifts out of the Temple, intending to sell 
them, in order to make up the required sum. 
The worthy high priest, Onias III., who resided 
at Antioch heard of this crime; he also learnt 
that Menelaus had sold utensils from the Temple, 
in Tyre and other Phoenician towns. Indignant 
at such behaviour, he accused Menelaus of rob- 
bing the Temple, a crime which was considered 
heinous even amongst the Greeks. This accu- 
sation hastened the death of the high priest. 
For Menelaus came to an agreement with An- 
dronicus, the king's representative, to remove 
Onias before the king should be cognisant of the 
theft committed in the Temple, and of the cause 
for which it had been perpetrated. Andronicus, 
being party to the theft himself, was anxious to 
make Onias powerless, and therefore enticed him 
from his hiding-place in the temple of Apollo at 
Daphne, near Antioch, where he had taken refuge, 
and basely killed him on the spot (171). This was 
one more crime added to those of which Menelaus 
had already been guilty. The murder of the high 


priest produced a great sensation, even amon^ 
the Greeks in Syria, and Antiochus was compelled 
to punish the murderer Andronicus. 

Meanwhile Menelaus, although his accuser was 
dead, was forced to try to conciliate the king. 
In order to do this he made his brother Lysimachus 
steal some more of the treasures of the Temple. 
These thefts, however, did not remain unnoticed ; 
as soon as they were discovered and the perpetrator 
found out, there arose a feeling of great bitterness 
against him. When the shameful conduct of the 
two brothers became known to the people outside 
Jerusalem, they hurried into the city, and joining 
the inhabitants of the capital, they threatened the 
violator of the Temple with death. Lysimachus 
armed his followers and placed a commander at 
their head named Avran, an old comrade and fellow- 
sinner. The unarmed people were not frightened 
by the soldiers, but stormed them with stones and 
sticks, blinded them with heaps of ashes, killed a 
great many, and put others to flight. Lysimachus 
himself was slain in the vicinity of the treasury of 
the Temple. Menelaus naturally brought an ac- 
cusation against the rebels of Jerusalem before the 
king, and the latter organised a judicial court in 
Tyre to discuss the accusation and the defence. 
Three members of the council, whom the people 
had selected for the purpose, proved in so con- 
vincing a manner the guilt of Lysimachus and his 
brother regarding the desecration of the Temple, 
that the verdict would have turned out unfavourably 
for them. But the inventive genius of Menelaus 
managed to secure the interest of a creature similar 
to himself, and he succeeded in turning the balance 
in favour of the culprit. Antiochus proclaimed from 
his seat of justice, that the criminal Menelaus was 
free, whilst he condemned to death the three de- 
puties from Jerusalem, who had so clearly proved 
his guilt. The Tyrian witnesses of this breach of 


justice, evinced their displeasure by taking a sym- 
pathetic part in the funeral of the three noble 
men, but Menelaus and injustice triumphed. He 
retained his coveted power, and he formed plans to 
revenge himself upon the people, who hated him so 
fiercely. He calumniated his enemies, that is to 
say, the whole nation, to the king. On the one 
hand, he maintained that his enemies were partisans 
of the Egyptian Court, and that they only per- 
secuted him because he opposed their party in- 
trigues ; on the other, Menelaus calumniated all 
Judaism ; he said that the Law of Moses was replete 
with the hatred of humanity, for it forbade them 
to take part in the repasts of other nations, or to 
show any kindness to strangers. As Antiochus 
was then concentrating all his thoughts on the 
conquest of Egypt, he believed Menelaus' calum- 
nies, and regarded the Judseans with distrust. He 
could not be indifferent to the fact, that whilst he 
undertook a dangerous expedition against Egypt, 
he left a formidable enemy in his rear. 

At last he commenced his long-cherished plan 
of attacking Egypt. An excuse for war is easily 
found, and Antiochus soon discovered one. His 
sister Cleopatra, married to Ptolemy V., had died 
and left two infant sons, Philometor and Physcon, 
the former of whom was considered as king, but 
whose two guardians Eulseus and Lenseus reigned 
in his stead. Antiochus resolved to anticipate the 
war which would shortly be directed against him- 
self, and assembled his troops to make a descent 
into Egypt. He delayed his attack, however, for 
some time out of fear of the Romans. But as the 
latter became more and more deeply implicated in 
a new war with Perseus, king of Macedonia, he 
ventured at last to cross the Egyptian frontier 
(170). Antiochus defeated the Egyptian army near 
Pelusium, and penetrated deeper into the country. 

The two guardians fled with the young king 

VOL. I. H H 


Philometor. Thereupon Antiochus took possession 
of the whole of northern Egypt, and advanced to 
Alexandria, to besiege it. The inhabitants, mean- 
while proclaimed the younger brother Ptolemy 
Physcon king, and defended the town so valiantly 
that the Syrian king despaired of conquering them. 
He therefore entered into negotiations with the elder 
brother, sent for him, signed a treaty with him, and 
pretended to continue the war for his benefit. The 
two kings were deceiving each other, whilst they sat 
together at the same table. In Judaea the con- 
sequences of the war were- watched wdth eager 
suspense. If the Egyptians were victorious, the 
probability was, that the sad misfortunes brought 
about by the hated high priest would come to an 
end. The Egyptian Court favoured the national 
Judsean party, and received all the patriots w^ho fled 
from the tyranny of Antiochus and Menelaus. The 
report was suddenly spread that Antiochus had 
lallen, and the intelligence produced great excite- 
ment. The deposed high-priest Jason left the Am- 
monites, where he had found refuge, and hurried 
to Jerusalem, accompanied by an army, with w^hich 
he hoped, to take possession of the town. Menelaus 
barricaded the gates of Jerusalem, and fought the 
enemy from the walls. A real civil war thus 
broke out, caused^ only by the ambition of two 
men, who wanted to obtain the high-priesthood as 
a road to power. But as only a small number of 
the inhabitants sided with Menelaus, Jason suc- 
ceeded m entermg Jerusalem with his troops. 
Menelaus had to hide behind the walls of the Acra. 
Meanwhile Antiochus left Egypt with rich spoils 
(169) perhaps for the purpose of raising new 
troops. Having heard of the occurrences in 
Jerusalem, his anger was roused against the 
Juda^ans, and the Covenant of Judaism; his 
wicked, inhuman nature broke forth against the 
people. He suddenly attacked Jerusalem and 



massacred the inhabitants, sparing neither age, 
youth, nor sex, and making no difference between 
friend and foe. He forced his way into the Temple, 
and as a mark of contempt for the God who was 
worshipped there, desecrated by his presence the 
Holy of Holies, removing the golden altar, cande- 
labra and table, in fact all the treasures, which still 
remained. Menelaus guided him in this act of 
spoliation ; he impudently blasphemed the God of 
Israel, whose omnipotence was sung by his followers, 
but whom he scorned, because He did not interfere 
with these sacrilegious actions. He spread a false 
report to palliate his guilt in the massacre of 
innocent people and the desecration of the Temple, 
and thus for a time helped to bring Judaism into bad 
repute amongst all civilised nations. Antiochus 
declared that he had seen the statue of a man with 
a long beard in the Holy of Holies, and that this 
statue stood on an ass and held a book in its hand. 
He thought it must be the statue of the lawgiver 
Moses, who had given the Judseans inhuman, 
horrible laws to separate them from all other 
peoples. A rumour thereupon spread amongst 
the Greeks and Romans that Antiochus had 
found the head of an ass made of gold in the 
Temple which the Judseans venerated, and con- 
sequently that they worshipped asses. Antiochus 
probably spread another horrible lie to blacken 
the Judseans : he said he had also discovered a 
Greek lying in bed in the Temple, who entreated to 
be released. The Judseans were said to kill a Greek 
every year, and to feed on his intestines, swearing 
meanwhile hatred against all Greeks, whom they 
were determined to destroy. Whether this vile 
calumny proceeded directly from Antiochus, or 
whether these fables were only attributed to him, 
there is no doubt that he blackened the repu- 
tation of the Judseans, by spreading the report 
that Judaism inculcated hatred towards all other 

HH 2 


nations. This was all they gained from the accom- 
plishment of their long-cherished wish to be asso- 
ciated with the Greeks. 

A veil of grief was drawn over Jerusalem, and the 
house of Jacob was dishonoured. 

"The leaders and the elders moaned, youths and maidens hid 
themselves, the beauty of the women was disfigured, the bridegroom 
lifted up his voice in sorrow instead of joyous song, and the bride 
wept in her bridal chamber." (i Mace. i. 26-28.) 

But this was by no means the end ; more sorrow- 
ful days were in store for Judaea. Antiochus under- 
took a second campaign against Egypt, and the 
Judaeans were destined a second time to suffer from 
his anger, at the unsuccessful termination of the 
war. The two royal brothers Philometor and 
Physcon were reconciled by the help of their sister 
and the Romans ; the former was proclaimed king 
in Alexandria. Antiochus was furious at this ; for 
his desire was to employ the helpless and timid 
Philometor as his tool, and to rule Egypt through 
him. As the Romans were still involved in a 
Macedonian war, he thought he might venture to i 
attack Egypt a second time (168). He entered the \ 
country without opposition and pushed on as far as j 
Alexandria ; the king of Egypt had meanwhile de- | 
spatched envoys to Rome to ask for help from the 
senate. Three Roman deputies were thereupon 
sent to Antiochus to bid him desist. After the sus- 
cessful battle of Pydna, the destruction of the Mace- 
donian army and the flight of King Perseus (June 
22, 168), the three Roman deputies hurried to the 
camp of Antiochus, and brought him the command 
of the senate to leave Egypt. When the Syrian 
king asked*for time to consider, the rough Popillius 
Lsenas, drawing a circle with his stick, declared, 
that before he completed the circle, Antiochus was 
to state whether he wished for peace or war with 
Rome. Antiochus knew how inexorable were I 


Roman commands, and therefore determined to 
depart immediately (end of June 168). 

Antiochus *'the Illustrious" returned to his 
capital. The knowledge of his humiliation tor- 
mented him all the more, as he had to feign 
friendship and satisfaction before the Romans. He 
vented his secret anger In unparalleled cruelties 
upon the Judseans. They had, he said, shown 
pleasure at his degradation ; they had proclaimed 
aloud that the God they worshipped humbled the 
haughty and had therefore prepared this mortifica- 
tion for him. Apollonlus, one of his princely sub- 
jects and former governor of Mysia, entered the 
Judaean capital, accompanied by fierce troops, but 
with apparently peaceful intentions. Suddenly, how- 
ever, on a sabbath, when no armed resistance could 
be expected, the Greek or Macedonian mercenary 
troops threw themselves on the inhabitants, killed 
men and youths, took women and children pri- 
soners, and sent them to the slave markets. Apol- 
lonlus also destroyed many houses in the capital, 
and pulled down the walls of Jerusalem, for he 
wished it to disappear from amongst Important 
cities. What Induced the madman and his wild 
troops to spare the Sanctuary ? They did not seek 
to destroy It as Antiochus wanted the Temple for 
another purpose ; but they gave vent to their anger 
on the walls, burnt the wooden gates, and destroyed 
the holy courts with hammer and hatchet. Within 
the Temple there was nothing left to steal. The 
Inhabitants who had not met with death escaped, 
and only the Hellenists, the Tyrian soldiers, and 
strangers remained in the deserted places. "Jeru- 
salem became strange to her own children." The 
Temple was also abandoned, for the faithful priests 
and Levltes had left, and the Hellenists did not 
trouble themselves about the sacred building ; the 
Acra was their place of exercise in Jerusalem. Here 
lay the strong Syrian garrison, and here also dwelt 


the Hellenists. This place was protected against 
any attack by high, strong walls and towers over- 
looking the Temple, and it was filled with arms 
and provisions. 

Solitude soon became unbearable to Menelaus, 
the original instigator of all these horrors. Of 
what use was it to be high priest if no worshippers 
came to the Temple, or to be overseer if the people 
turned their backs upon him ? He was frightened 
at the mere echo of his own voice. To free himself 
from this painful position he invented a new and 
infamous plan. 1 Judaism, with its laws and customs, 
was to be suspended, and its followers were to be 
compelled to adopt the Greek faith. f Antiochus, full 
of hatred and anger against both the Judseans and 
their religion, acceded to Menelaus' plan, and had 
it carried out with his usual tenacity. jThe Judaeans 
were to become Hellenised, and thereby reduced 
to obedience, or, if they opposed his will, they 
were doomed to death. He not only wished to be- 
come master of the Judsean people, but to prove to 
them the impotence of the God they served so 
faithfully. He, who disdained the gods of his an- 
cestors,^ considered it a mockery that the Judaeans 
should still hope that their God would destroy him, 
the proud blasphemer, and he determined to chal- 
lenge and defeat the God of Israel. Thereupon 
Antiochus issued a decree, which was sent forth to 
all the towns of Judaea, commanding the people to 
renounce the laws of their God, and to offer sacri- 
fice only to the Greek gods. Altars and idols were 
to be erected everywhere for that purpose, and, in 
order to strike an effectual blow at Judaism, An- 
tiochus ordained that unclean animals, particularly 
swine, should be used at the sacrifices. He for- 
bade, under severe penalty, three religious rites 
which outwardly distinguished the Judaeans from 
the heathen, namely, circumcision, the keeping of 
the sabbath and the festivals, and the abstinence 


from unclean food. Officials were appointed to see 
that his orders were carefully carried out, and 
these officials were hard-hearted men who punished 
with death any person infringing the royal com- 
mands. The Temple was first desecrated, and 
Antiochus himself sent a noble Antiochian there 
to dedicate the Sanctuary to Jupiter. A swine 
was sacrificed on the altar in the fore-court, 
and its blood was sprinkled in the Holy of 
Holies, (on the stone which Antiochus had 
imagined to be Moses' statue) the flesh was cooked, 
and its juice spilt over the leaves of the Holy 
Scriptures. The so-called high priest Menelaus 
and the other Judsean Hellenists were compelled 
to eat of the swine's flesh. The roll of the Law, 
which was found in the Temple, was not only be- 
spattered, but burntj because, though it taught 
purity and humanity, Antiochus maintained that it 
inculcated hatred of mankind. This was its first 
baptism of fire. The statue of Jupiter was then 
placed on the altar, *' the abomination of destruc- 
tion," to whom sacrifices were now to be offered 
(17 Tammuz, July, i68). 

Thus the Temple in Jerusalem, the only holy 
place on earth, was thoroughly desecrated, and 
the God of Israel was apparently driven away by 
the Greek Jupiter. How did the people bear this 
unparalleled violation ? Would they submit to the 
stern edict of the heartless king and his officials, and 
allow themselves to be deprived of their nationality 
and their God ? It was a severe* and momentous 
ordeal. Death threatened all those who openly 
confessed Judaism, and they dared not even call 
themselves Judseans. But the persecuted people 
came out of their trial victoriously, and the blood 
of martyrs sealed their union with God and His 

(^The Judseans who were dispersed in Syrian and 
Phoenician towns, in closest proximity to the Greeks, 


were sometimes forced into conversion, and to sub- 
mit to the order that bade them deny their re- 
lig-ion and sacrifice to the Greek gods. But even 
amongst these renegades some remained faithful, 
and sacrificed their lives in endeavouring to carry- 
out their Law. In Antioch an aged man named 
Eleazer suffered a martyr's death rather than par- 
take of the idolatrous sacrifices. It was related that 
in some distant part of Judah a mother and seven 
sons defied death rather than break the Law. These 
heroic martyrs, both young and old, set a noble 
example to the Judaeans, and the number of those 
who suffered for their faith increased from day to 
day. The overseers whom Antiochus had appointed 
to carry out his decrees directed their attention to 
the smaller towns, whither the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem had fled. Here they built altars, and. sum- 
moned the people in the name of the king to offer 
swine to Jupiter, and then to eat the flesh, and 
to break the sabbath by working on the day of rest. 
They particularly insisted that sacrifices should be 
offered every month on the date which corre- 
sponded to that of Antiochus' birthday. On the 
Bacchanalian festival of Dionysus, whose jubilee 
consisted in opening the barrels — they were com- 
pelled to deck themselves with ivy like the Greeks, 
and to utter wild shrieks of joy in honour of the 
Greek Bacchus. When one of the officials came 
into a country town and called the people to- 
gether to give proofs of their secession from 
Judaism, he hardly found any one to meet him. 
Many had fled and sought shelter in the caves 
and ravines of the Judaean mountains, or in the 
waste land near the Dead Sea. Antiochus was 
greatly irritated by this resistance, and he issued 
command upon command to enforce his orders 
with the utmost cruelty upon the disobedient 
people. The officials therefore continued their per- 
secutions with redoubled zeal. They tore and burnt 


the rolls of the Law whenever they found them, 
and killed the few survivors who sought strength 
and consolation in their perusal. They destroyed 
all houses of worship and education, and if they 
found poor weak women, just recovering from their 
confinements, who, in the absence of their husbands, 
circumcised their sons themselves, these barbarians 
hanged them with their babes on the walls of the 

But all such cruelties, instead of intimidating 
the people, only increased their determined re- 
sistance. Death had lost its sting for many, who 
preferred suffering the last extremity to eating for- 
bidden food. This noble firmness was particularly 
encouraged by the strictly religious sect of Chas- 
sidim. Some of these emerged from their hiding- 
places, and entering towns and villages, called the 
inhabitants together, spoke with warmth and con- 
viction, and incited them to be steadfast and con- 
stant. Their preaching was all the more effective 
as they gave proof of indomitable courage in the 
face of death. 

Before long, however, the Syrian commanders in 
Jerusalem discovered the leaders of this courageous 
resistance ; fsome reprobate Hellenists had probably 
betrayed the hiding-place of the Chassidim. 
Thereupon the Phrygian Philip, commander of 
the garrison, went in search of the concealed 
fugitives. On a sabbath he and his soldiers sur- 
rounded the caves in which thousands of men, 
women and children had sought refuge, he sum- 
moned them to come out in obedience to An- 
tiochus' commands, and promised them safety if 
they submitted voluntarily to his orders. They 
answered unanimously, ''We will not obey your 
commands and break the sabbath." Then Philip 
ordered his troops to commence the attack. The 
Chassidim looked on with undaunted courage, 
but did not try to defend themselves, nor to raise a 


Stone to close the entrance to the caves, for fear 
of desecrating- the sabbath. Thus calling heaven 
and earth to witness their innocence, all the people 
perished in the caves by the hands of the murderous 
followers of Philip. Some were killed by the fire- 
brands thrown into the caves, whilst others were 
suffocated by the smoke, which had penetrated into 
them. Great was the grief of the faithful Judseans 
when they learned the horrible death of the men 
who had been to them a light and an example. 

The most courageous lost heart. How could 
this unbearable position last? The faithful were 
bowed down by the thought that heaven vouch- 
safed them no visible sign of hope in this their 
unparalleled trial ; no prophet rose up to fore- 
tell where this fearful ordeal was to end. When 
the bloody persecution of the Judsean people had 
reached such a height that either the destruc- 
tion of the whole nation, or their submission from 
exhaustion and despair seemed imminent, a change 
took place. 

It was brought about by a family whose members 
combined the purest piety with courage, talent, 
and circumspection ; this was the family of the 
Hasmonaeans or Maccabees. An aged father and 
five heroic sons brought about a revolution and 
kindled a spirit of enthusiasm, which strengthened 
Judaism for all time. The aged father, called 
Mattathias, was the son of Jochanan, son of Ha^- 
monai, an Aaron ite; he left Jerusalem in consequence 
of the desecration of the temple, and had established 
himself in the small town of Modin, three miles 
north of Jerusalem. His five sons, who all helped 
to raise the people from its deep degradation, and 
found their death in defending their country, bore 
Aramaic names : Jochanan Gadi, Simon Tharsi, 
Judas Maccabi, JHeazer Chawran, and Jonathan 
Chaphus. . This family of Hasmonaeans, who heid 
many followers, on account of the ccmsideration in 


which they were held, all felt the miserable condi- 
tion of their country with poignant sorrow. ^' Why 
should we live, now that the Sanctuary is dese- 
crated and Judsea has become a slave? " Thus 
spoke Mattathias, to his sons, and he made up his 
mind not to remain quiet and sorrowing in his 
hiding-place, but either to help the good cause or 
to die courageously for it. 

When Apelles, one of the Syrian overseers, 
reached J^lo^jn,, to i^ummon the inhabitants to be- 
come idolaters 4nd to abandon the Law, Mattathias 
and his sons immediately appeared, and when com- 
manded to set an example of submission, the 
former answered : ''If all the people in the king- 
dom obeyed the order of the monarch, to depart 
from the faith of their fathers, I and my sons would 
abide by the Covenant of our forefathers." When 
one of the Judseans approached the altar to sacri- 
fice to Jupiter, Mattathias could .no longer restrain 
his wrath, but rushed upon the apostate, killing him 
at the altar. His sons, armed with long knives, 
fell upon Apelles and his troops, killed them, and 
destroyed the altar. This act proved the turning- 
point, and an example of courageous resistance in 
contradistinction to inactive despair was thus given 
by the heroic band. Immediately after this attack 
upon the officers of Antiochus, Mattathias cried 
out: ''Whoever is a zealous defender of the Law, 
and whoever wishes to support the Covenant, follow 
me." Thereupon the inhabitants of Modin and 
its vicinity followed him to a secure hiding-place 
v/hich he selected for them in the mountains of 
Ephraim ; and there the remainder of the Chas- 
sidim, who had escaped death in the caves, or who 
had fled from oppression, joined him. 

The number of resolute defenders of their 
country daily increased. Mattathias did not con- 
ceal from them that they would have to fight 
hard battles, but exhorted them to be ready to face 


death. Warned by the exaggerated piety of the 
Chassidim, who had scrupled to move a stone on 
the sabbath In their own defence, the assembly 
which surrounded the aged Hasmonaean decided 
to repulse with arms any attack made upon them 
even on the day of rest. ^ The Chassidim, who 
had hitherto been deeply absorbed in the Holy 
Scriptures, and who were men of quiet, peaceful 
habits, now steeled themselves to the rougher art of 
war. A commander who inspires confidence, gives 
courage to the soldier. The country was suffer- 
ing from the same hopeless condition which pre- 
vailed at the time of the Judges, and at the 
beginning of Saul's reign. Some of the inhabi- 
tants hid themselves in caves, others went over to 
the enemy and only a small number were willing to 
sacrifice their lives for their country, and even they 
had no arms and knew nothing of warfare. Victory 
seemed more hopeless now than formerly. Matta- 
thias was careful not to wage open war against the 
Syrians with his small band. Well acquainted 
with every inch of the countr}', he entered the towns 
unexpectedly with his ._,sons and followers, de- 
stroyed the idolacfo\is temples and altars, 
punished the inhabitants who sided with the 
enemy, pursued the Hellenists when he came upon 
them, and performed the sign of the Covenant 
on the children who had been left uncircumcised. 
From time to time he destroyed small Syrian 
troops of soldiers, with whom he happened to fall 
in, and when the commander of the garrison of 
Jerusalem sent a larger army to pursue the re- 
bellious Judseans, it was suddenly attacked, dect- 
mated and- routed. In short, Mattathias waged 
a kind of petty warfare against the enemy, such as 
can only be carried on in mountainous districts, 
but which may wear out the most powerful enemy. 
When on the verge of death, the aged Mattathias 
was preparing for his last hour (167), his followers 


were not fainthearted for lack of a leader, the only 
difficulty lay as to the choice they should make 
amongst his five heroic sons. The dying- father 
selected Simon, to be the wise counsellor, and 
Judas, to be commander, and exhorted them all 
to devote their lives to the Covenant of their 
forefathers, and to fight God's battle. As soon 
as Judas Maccabseus was in command, matters 
took a favourable turn. He was a hero such as 
the house of Israel had not known since the time 
of David arrd^ Joab, but he was nobler and purer. 
A feeling of strength seemed to emanate from 
his heroism, filling all those who surrounded him 
with the same dauntless courage. He was en- 
dowed with the instincts of a general, and this 
enabled him to fight at the right moment, to take 
advantage of his enemy's weakness, and to deceive 
him by false attacks. In the hour of battle, he 
was like a lion in his rage, and at other times 
like a dove in gentleness and simplicity. He was 
as resigned to the will of God as the holiest men 
of old in Israel, and relied not on his sword, but 
on God's help, praying to Him before each deci- 
sive action. Judas Maccabseus was a true hero of 
Israel, who only resorted to bloodshed when com- 
pelled by necessity in order to recover lost free- 
dom, or to raise a humbled people. He gave his 
name to the whole epoch. 

At first he followed the example of his father, 
and only sallied out at night, to punish the 
seceders, to try and regain the wavering, and 
to harass small bands of Syrian troops. But 
' as the number of his followers steadily in- 
creased, augmented by those who were cured 
of their love for the Greeks by the cruelty and 
despotism of the latter, Judas ventured to con- 
front a Syrian army under Apollonius. /The 
latter had united the troops in Samaria ' with 
other regiments assembled to fight the rebels, for 


he had deemed it imprudent to withdraw the 
soldiers from Jerusalem, or rather, from the Acra. 
This was the first open battle which Judas fought, 
and success rewarded his valour. Apollonius was 
killed, and his soldiers were either slain on the 
battle-field or driven to flight. Though the number 
of the defeated Syrians was small, still this 
victory encouraged the Judseans. They had met 
the cruel foe face to face, and their daring had 
triumphed ; they considered it a proof that God 
had not abandoned His people, but still watched 
over, and protected them. Judas appropriated the 
sword which Apollonius had lost, and fought with 
it until his death. 

A Syrian commander named Heron, pursued 
Judas and his followers into the mountains, and 
guided by some treacherous Hellenists, hoped to 
crush them with his overwhelming numbers. 
When the Judsean soldiers first saw the great 
numbers of men assembled near Bethoron, they 
cried out, "How can we wage war against such 
an enemy?" But Judas knew how to calm their 
fears, and reminded them of the precious trea- 
sures they were called upon to defend, their life, 
their children and the Law. A vigorous attack 
was made on the Syrians, who were totally de- 
feated. Eight hundred men of Heron's army 
remained dead on the battlefield, and the others 
fled westward into the land of the Philistines. This 
first decisive victory of Judas/ at Bethoron, over a 
much larger army than his own (i66),Unspired the 
Judaeans with confidence, and filled their enemies 
with terror; they were amazed both at the strate- 
gical power of the Maccabees and at the endurance 
of the people. 

What was Antiochus, the author of all these 
troubles, doing meanwhile? At first he thought 
very little about the Judeeans, erroneously imagin- 
ing that his decrees would sufiice to subdue and con- 


vert them. But when he learned the losses of his 
army and received the reports of Judas' heroism, he 
at last admiitted that he had underrated his enemy's 
power of resistance. Jin the first moment of anger he 
determined to malce an end of (his refractory ' oppo- 
nents. But he was unable to carry out his plans 
immediately ; he had few troops left and would 
have been compelled to obtain mercenaries. For this 
purpose he needed money which was scarce just 
then, for his extravagant expenditure was greatly in 
excess of his revenues, and owing to the war with 
Judas, the taxes were not collected. Other em- 
barrassments w^ere added to these, for alarming news 
reached him from the east and the north. Arsaces, 
satrap of Parthia, had revolted against the Syrian- 
Babylonian Empire, and had freed himself and his 
people. Artaxias, king of Armenia, totally ignored 
his fealty to Antiochus and acted like an indepen- 
dent sovereign. The inhabitants of Aradus, and 
other Phoenician towns, also refused to obey him, 
and thus his revenues decreased more and more. 
In order to replenish his treasury he was compelled 
to wage war against these revolted nations, but to 
carry on this war, he needed money. Thus he fell 
from one trouble into another; but, nevertheless, 
Antiochus, who was greatly incensed against the 
rebels, managed to collect some mercenary troops 
for a year. He intended leading half the troops 
himself against the rebellious provinces beyond the 
Euphrates, and half of them he entrusted to 
Lysias, a man of royal parentage, who acted as 
the representative of Antiochus, and who was en- 
trusted with the education of his son. | His inten- 
tions regarding Jerusalem were now quite altered. 
He no longer wished to Hellenise that city; his 
plan of sending Greek citizens to civilise its inhabi- 
tants had been defeated.^ They had shown them- 
selves 1 incorrigible and T quite uriworthy of the 
benefit he wished to confer upon them, and he 


therefore determined that they should be exter- i 
minated. He commissioned Lysias to march 
against Judaea with the troops left in his charge, 
and, after conquering the Judseans, to destroy and 
uproot every remnant of Israel and every trace of J 
Jerusalem ; and the land was to be colonised and di- \ 
vided amongst foreign tribes. (The Judsean Hellenists 
were likewise comprised in this plan of destruction, j 
for Antiochus no longer thought of utilising them. • 
He did not care about the small number who ; 
slavishly adhered to his commands.) As soon as \ 
this plan became known, all the Judseans were seized 
with terror and despair/especially those who lived 
amongst other tribes olitside Judaea.) Would the ] 
small but heroic army, under the guidance of the \ 
Maccabees, be able to resist the shock of a j 
numerous horde, provided with elephants ? In 
every town, and in every country, where the king's ] 
commands became known, great terror filled the 
hearts of the Judseans, and they fasted and wept. ; 
The Elders dressed themselves in their penitential j 
garb and covered themselves with ashes. But this j 
incredibly cruel plan of destroying a whole people, \ 
including men, women and children, roused new^ I 
forces tor the defence of their countr^% Even I 
the more worldly minded men among the Judaeans, l 
and those who, though anxious for innovation, had 
yet not entirely fallen out with Judaism, now joined 
the Maccabees, for they had no other alternative. ) f! 
Meanv;hile the actual position of affairs was ^, 
dismal enough. A large Syrian army was expected 
every moment to crush the Judaean soldiers. It 
was absolutely necessary, therefore, that the whole 
nation should be animated with enthusiasm to fight 
and to endure. A peculiar book was compiled to 
further this object, and circulated amongst the 
more educated of the Judaeans ; this was the 
Book of Daniel. It was undoubedly written 
by one of the Chassidim, and intended for his 


co-relig-ionlsts. The object of this apocalyptic and 
artistically compiled work, written partly in Hebrew 
and partly in Chaldsean, was to give an example 
of firmness in adhering to religious convictions, to 
put them vividly before the reader, and to make 
him feel that this bloody persecution of the 
people would not be of long duration. Even 
the most pious and faithful began to doubt God's 
mercy, for no prophet appeared to divulge the 
object of their cruel sufferings, nor to announce 
when they should cease. The Book of Daniel 
offered consolation in this respect. The prophetic 
sayings were not wholly extinct in Israel, for here 
was a prophecy, which announced the aim and pre- 
dicted the end of their misery : ** There is yet 
prophecy among us." 

The Book first quotes examples of constancy in 
religious observances under great difficulties and 
danger, and offers promises of salvation to the pious 
who w^ere threatened with death ; at the end of the 
book are also contained prophecies for the future. 
The book further intimates that the kings who vio- 
lated the Sanctuary or exercised religious despot- 
ism would be humiliated and forced to confess their 
crimes. The Book of Daniel half conceals and 
half reveals, in a sort of allegory, the destruction 
of the wicked Syrian Empire, which was the heir 
of former kingdoms. The fourth kingdom on earth 
following that of the Babylonians, the Medo- 
Persians and Macedonians, would utter foolish 
words against the Almighty, destroy the holy ones, 
do away with the festivals, and endeavour to change 
the laws. The holy ones would be given to him 
''a time, times, and half a time." Then dominion 
would pass into the hands of the people of the Holy 
One for ever, and all knees would bow down to 
Him. In another vision he saw the fourth Syrian 
Empire extending far away to the south, to the 
east and to the north, rising to the heavens, and 



sending down stars unto the earth to crush it. It 
would exalt itself over the King of the Hosts of 
Stars, it would destroy the daily sacrifice, and the 
place of the Sanctuary. When the question was 
asked — 

"How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt 
offering and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give both 
the Sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot ? " (Daniel 
viii. 13.) 

a voice answered — 

" Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings ; 
then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed." (verse 14.) 

The Book of Daniel, with its mystical revela- 
tions, was undoubtedly read with great interest by 
the Assidseans. The apocalyptic form, which gave 
each line a peculiar meaning and reflected the 
actual moment, lent it a great attraction. It had 
besides solved the problem of the present calamities 
and shown the object of the horrible persecutions; 
these were intended on the one hand to destroy 
sin, and on the other to ennoble believers. The 
duration of the period of affliction had been deter- 
mined from the beginning, and this period had its 
mystical meaning. The worldly kingdoms would 
disappear, and at the end of this time, God's king- 
dom would commence, as the kingdom of the holy 
ones, and those who have died or have been slain 
during the persecutions would awake to eternal life. 
Thus though no prophet arose at that time, there 
was a prophecy. 

Meanwhi le the danger became more imminent for 
the Judaeans. Whilst Antiochus liad marched east- 
ward (166) with part of his arrhyyliis representative 
Lysias [had chosen a general called Ptolemy, son 
of Dorymenes (the one who favoured Menelaus, and 
who was commander in Ccelesyria and Phoenicia), 
and two generals under^himj Nicanor son of Patro- 
clus, and Georgias. Th'e*^tter had orders to begin 
the campaign against the Judaeans ; and he therefore 


led his division, which was erroneously computed at 
40,000 cavalry, along the coast into the very heart 
of Judaea. Samaritans and Philistines, all the arch- 
enemies of the Judaeans, placed themselves at his 
disposal. He was so certain of victory that he asked 
slave-traders to •come into his camp and to bring with 
them money and chains. The Syrian commander 
thought that it would be more prudent to sell 
the captives as slaves than to kill them ; but whilst 
he was thus prematurely disposing of them, the 
Judaean warriors, numbering 6,000, assembled round 
Judas Maccabaeus. Before leading them into action, 
the commander, in order to animate them with the 
spirit of heroic self-sacrifice, organised a solemn 
assembly in the mountain city Mizpah. It is a 
remarkable coincidence that, nine hundred years 
before, the prophet Samuel had, on a similar 
occasion, assembled the people in the same place, 
in order to select a leader against the enemy, who 
was then planning the destruction of Israel./ Judas 
chose Mizpah, because it had been a central meet- 
ing place for those Judaeans who had survived the 
destruction of the Temple under Gedaliah, and also 
because there was formerly a small Temxple there! 
The assembly was deeply moved ; all its members 
observed a strict fast during the day, wore mourning 
garments and prayed with all the fervour of their 
sorrowing hearts for help and pity. A scroll of the 
Law, which the Judaean army carried with them, 
was unfolded, and excited great lamentations, for it 
reminded them that Antiochus wished to force them 
to abandon the Law and to become heathens. 

Meanwhile Judas endeavoured, not only to rouse 
the people, but to excite their courage and to pre- 
pare them for their difficult and bloody struggle. 
He divided his army into four parts, and placed 
his three elder brothers in command of divi- 
sions. In accordance with the Law, he issued a 
proclamation to the effect that all those who were 

IT ? 


newly married, who had built a house or planted 
a new vineyard, or who lacked sufficient courage, 
were to withdraw from the ranks. jHaving done this, 
he marched towards Emmaus, eight or nine hours' 
journey from Mizpah, to meet the enemy. Georgias 
had encamped, with about 5,000 foot-soldiers and 
1,000 cavalry, in the plain near Emmaus, because 
he thought it was easier to penetrate from thence 
into the mountains of Judaea, and also to resist 
the attacks of the whole Maccabaean army.v The 
Syrian leader wished to surprise the Judaeans in the 
night, but was outwitted by Maccabaeus. As soon as 
night set in, Judas left the camp with his followers, 
marched by well-known roads to the west^, anfl 
stood in the enemy's rear. When Georgias found 
the camp of the Judseans deserted, he imagined that 
fear had driven them into the mountains, and he 
pursued them thither. This was the object of Judas' 
stratagem. He followed the Syrians in the rear, 
reached their camp, set it on fire, and pursued the 
troops. Georgias only noticed at dawn that the 
enemy he was seeking in the mountains was fol- 
lowing him from the plain ; he thereupon hurriedly 
ordered part of his army to halt, and to confront 
the Judaeans. 

Meanwhile Maccabaeus placed his division in 
perfect order, and encouraged them to fight for 
their country, their Law, and their Sanctuary. His 
younger brother hurriedly read them a few en- 
couraging verses out of the Law, and gave the war- 
riors the watchword *' God's help !" The Judaean 
army (jvas greater in ^number than the one division 
of Syrian troops, andjfought with such enthusiasm, 
that the enemy was beaten and compelled to fly. 
Judas forbade his soldiers to seize any booty, as 
they still had to fight the other division of the 
enemy's army, which was returning from the moun- 
tains. These troops shortly made their appear- 
ance, and the Judaeans stood ready to resume the 


battle; but it did not take place, for as soon as 
the Syrians saw the smoke rising- from their camp 
they turned and fled southwards into the land of 
the Philistines. *'It was a great rescue* on that 
day." The victory of Emmaus (i66) gained by 
clever strategy and patient valour, was of vast 
importance. It paralysed the enemy, and inspired 
the Judaeans with confidence in their own power. 
Neither the cavalry nor the foot-soldiers, with their 
helmets and shields, alarmed them any longer, and 
the arms which they needed fell into their hands 
after the enemy had taken to flight. The booty 
consisted of gold, silver, and purple, and of the 
sacks of money belonging to the numerous slave- 
traders who had remained in the camp. All these 
things were not to be despised, as they became the 
means of victory to them in future struggles. The 
victors returned to their meeting-place at Modin 
with songs of rejoicing, which ended with the verse 
*' Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy 
endureth for ever." 

But they were unable to Jay down their arms 
for a long time ; they knew that Lysias, who had 
received orders to destroy the Judaeans, would 
not let this first defeat pass quietly, but that he 
would strain every effort to repair the disaster. 
They therefore remained armed, and had the hap- 
piness of seeing their numbers increase to 10,000. 
If ever a war deserved the name of **holv," the 
one undertal^en by Maccabaeus certainly proved 
worthy of that appellation. In the following year 
(165), when Lysias attacked Judaea with a powerful 
picked army of cavalry and foot-soldiers, he found 
the Judaeans more courageous and determined than 
ever. (He had not ventured to enter their land 
from the same road as before, but had taken a 
circuitous route, intending to invade Judaea from 
the part occupied by the Idumaeans. He enpamped 
near Bethzur, five hours south of Jerusalem, j'^^lac- 



cabseus marched with his 10,000 men to meet him ; 
a regular battle ensued, in which the impetuous 
attacks of the Judseans again secured the victory- 
over the strategy of the Syrian hirelings. Lysias 
departed, furious at his defeat; but he flattered 
himself that by increasing the number of his army 
he would ultimately master his opponents/ Only in 
the Acra of Jerusalem did the incorrigible Hellen- 
ists still remain, with Menelaus and a small Syrian 




Return of Judas to Jerusalem — Reconsecration of the Temple — The 
Feast of Lights — Fortification of the Capital — The Idumaeans 
and Ammonites defeated by Judas — Illtreatment of the Galilean 
Judasans — Measures against Timotheus — Death of Antiochus — 
Embassy of the Hellenists to Antiochus V. — Battle at Bethzur — 
Retreat of Judas — Affairs in Jerusalem — Alcimus — Intervention 
of the Romans — Nicanor's Interview with Judas — Battle of 
Adarsa — Death of Judas — Effects of his Career — Condition of 
the People after the Death of Judas — The Chassidim, the Hel- 
lenists, and the Hasmonasans — Jonathan — His Guerilla Warfare 
against Bacchides — Death of the High Priest Alcimus — Truce 
between Jonathan and Bacchides — Jonathan as High Priest — 
His far-sighted Policy — His Captivity and his Death. 

165—143 B.C. 

The two decisive battles of Emmaus and Bethoron 
had entirely altered the position of Judaea. The im- 
minent danger was averted. Three years and a 
half had passed since the beginning of the religious 
persecution and the desecration of the Temple 
(Tammuz, 168 — Marheshvan, 165), and, just as the 
Book of Daniel had prophesied, peace had followed 
the disastrous excitement of this period. Macca- 
baeus and his followers took advantage of this fortu- 
nate moment to march into Jerusalem and to put 
anend to the desecration which had hitherto held 
sway there. The aspect of the holy city was deeply 
distressing to her faithful sons, who had shed their 
hearts' blood to save her. The town looked like a 
desert, in which only her enemies were contending 
with one another. The Sanctuary was deserted, 


the doors were burnt, the porches were destroyed, 
idolatrous altars stood everywhere ; the image of 
Zeus towered on the altar, an emblem of devasta- 
tion, and statues of Antiochus insulted the Judseans. 
But the holy warriors had not time to give vent 
to their sorrow at the general desecration, for 
they were forced to act quickly for fear of being 
disturbed in their work of purification. Their first 
duty was tO' destroy all statues of Jove, and to 
remove all unclean objects from the fore-courts 
(3rd Kislev, 165). They also removed the altar, 
thinking it unworthy of their sacrifices after it had 
been so frequently polluted. A council of elders 
determined to place the stones of the altar in 
one of the porches of the entrance-court, and to 
keep them there until the Prophet Elijah should 
appear and decree what was to be done with them. 
Meanwhile a new altar was built, new doors were 
put up, and new vessels were brought to the 
Temple to replace the old ones. All these prepara- 
tions were finished in three weeks, and early in the 
morning of the ^c;th Kislev (November)^ i6 q. the 
Temple was consecrated with sacrifices and thanks- 
givings. The two former consecrations certainly 
could not have been held with greater fervour and 
devotion. The purest feelings animated the con- 
gregation, and the mortal anguish, which they had 
endured for three years and a half, now gave place 
to feelings of joy and hope. 

The consecration of the Temple not only de- 
noted the victory of the weak over the strong, the 
faithful over the sinner, but also and especially, 
the victory of Judaism over Hellenic idolatry, of 
the God of Israel over idols. All the people from 
every town of Judaea took part in the festival, and 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem lit bright lamps in 
front of their houses as a symbol of the Law, 
called ** Light" by the Poets. The Hasmoneean 
brothers and the other members of the Great 


Council decided that in future the week beginning 
on the 25th of Kislev should be held as a joyous 
festival, to commemorate the consecration of the 
Temple. Year after year the members of the 
House of Israel were to be reminded of the victory 
of a small body of men over a large army, and of 
the re-establishment of the Sanctuary. This decree 
was conscientiously carried out. For two thousand 
years these days have been celebrated as the "Days 
of Consecration " (Chanucah), and lamps have 
been lighted in every household in Israel. The 
days derived their name of *' Feast of Lights" 
from this custom. Naturally, the same order now 
prevailed in the Temple as formerly. Priests and 
Levites were reinstated in their office /only those 
Aaronites who had taken part in idolatrous wor- 
ship were expelled from the SanctuaryT/ This just 
severity produced bad results, and increased the 
difficulty of the position of the Judseans. The 
priests who were Hellenists and followers of Mene- 
laus thus, prevented from being reconciled with the 
representatives of the people, became more and 
more embittered in their hatred against the national 
pious party. Maccabseus placed his soldiers on 
guard whilst the Temple was being restored, to pre- 
vent the Hellenists from hindering the people in 
their work, and as SQon as the consecration was 
over, he built a high wall, skirting the hill of the 
Temple, and two strong towers, well garrisoned, to 
protect it from sudden attacks from the neighbour- 
ing Birah or Acra. ) He took the precaution of 
protecting the country in different ways, as he fore- 
saw that the people would have to fight more 
battles before they could secure their freedom. He 
also fortified Bethzur, the town from which Lysias 
had thought of starting with his army. This was to 
be in particular a stronghold against the Idumaeans. 
The victory of the heroes of Israel over the well- 
armed Syrian troops increased the burning hatred 


of the neighbouring nations against the Judseans, 
and united them in cruel enmity against the mem- 
bers of the people who dwelt amongst them, or 
who had fled to them for refuge. They either 
grudged them their victory or feared their supe- 
riority. The Philistines, in the south-west, the 
Phoenicians, in the north-west ; the Ammonites, on 
the other side of the Jordan ; the Syrians and 
Macedonians in the neighbourhood, and particu- 
larly the Idumseans in the south, were alike imbued 
with hatred of the Judseans. 

When driven away from their homes by the 
Nabatseans, the Idumseans had settled in the old 
Judsean territory, and had even taken possession 
of Hebron. They showed themselves the bitter 
enemies of the Judseans in Antiochus' time, just 
as they had done under Nebuchadnezzar's despot- 
ism ; they were ever on the watch for the fugitives, 
whom they ill-treated, and sometimes even killed. 
It was therefore very important to reduce them to 
subjection. Judas first undertook an expedition 
against the sons of Esau in Accrabattine, defeated 
them, and drove them from their dwelling-places. 
He then crossed the Jordan with his army, fought 
the Ammonites, who were led by a Syrian warrior, 
Timotheus, an implacable and indefatigable enemy 
of the Judaeans. When Judas had defeated him 
and the Ammonites, and had taken possession of 
their capital Rabbath-Ammon -Philadelphia, Timo- 
theus sought shelter in the neighbouring fortress 
Jaeser, commanded by his brother Chaireas. 
Twenty Judsean youths are reported to have shown 
wonderful valour by climbing the walls of this diffi- 
cult fortress and making a breach for the troops to 
enter. Judas accomplished his object by taking 
Jccser and the other towns ; he obtained peace 
for the Judajans residing in this part of the country, 
and inspired foreign nations with respect for the 
name of Israel. 


The Judsean troops had hardly returned to 
Jerusalem before they received intelligence of the 
further ill-treatment of their Judsean brethren at 
the hands of their heathen neighbours. The 
Judaeans turned in their distress to Maccabseus, as 
the Israelites had done of old to Saul. The in- 
habitants of Gilead and Bashan informed him 
by letter that the heathen tribes had collected, 
with Timotheus at their head, with the intention of 
utterly destroying them; that i,ooo Judseans had 
been slaughtered in the province of Tobiene ; that 
the women and children had been dragged into cap- 
tivity, and that their property had been seized by 
the enemy. Messengers, with their garments rent 
asunder, followed upon this missive, bringing 
letters from the Galilean Judaeans, who were 
threatened with death by the inhabitants of Acco, 
Tyre and Zidon. They implored Judas to come 
to their aid before it was too late. He had no 
need to send messengers with threatening words, 
like Saul, to call together an army to the assistance 
of the threatened Jabesh-Gileadites, for he had the 
army about him, the whole fighting power of the 
land, who followed him gladly. Maccabseus gave 
the command of one part of his army to his 
brother Simon, with orders to march to the 
assistance of the Judaeans of Galilee, whilst he and 
his brother Jonathan, with the other division, 
prepared to rescue his oppressed brethren on the 
opposite side of the Jordan. The rest of the 
Judaean forces, under the command of two leaders, 
were to guard the west boundary of Judaea from the 
inroads of the Philistines. Simon accomplished 
his task with rapidity and good-fortune. He began 
by hastening to Acco, where the Judsean inhabitants 
were being cruelly treated by the Greeks or Mace- 
donians. His well-trained soldiers, meeting with 
some hostile forces, defeated them easily, put them 
to the rout and pursued them to the very walls of 


the sea-port. This successful feat of arms relieved 
him from the necessity of further engagements, for 
the Macedonians of the neighbouring towns did 
not venture upon encountering the Maccabsean 
troops. Simon was therefore able to progress un- 
molested through Galilee and to persuade the 
Judseans of that province to migrate to Judaea. 

A more laborious contest awaited Judas in the 
Transjordanic provinces, for on his march he again 
met with the obstinate hostility of Timotheus. As 
in former ages, the heights were still crowned 
with fortresses. However, Judas succeeded in re- 
ducing several of them ; he razed their walls to the 
ground, disarmed their defenders and delivered 
some of his imprisoned countrymen. He then 
assembled the Judsean population, led them across 
the Jordan, through the friendly city of Bethshean 
(Scythopolis), and shortly before the celebration of 
the feast of Pentecost (May, 164) he returned to 
Jerusalem, with a number of emigrant Judaeans 
from Gilead. From all cities of Judaea the en- 
thusiastic people streamed, to receive the victor 
and to celebrate the festival with feelings of joy 
and gratitude. New songs of praise resounded in 
the Temple. 

But Judas soon recommenced hostilities, in order 
to avenge an injury which had been received. 
During his absence his two generals, Joseph, the son 
of Zachariah, and Azariah, whom he had left behind 
to guard the land in the west, had, contrary to his 
orders, attacked Georgias, who occupied Jamnia 
with a force; but they had suffered a defeat and 
had been driven back to the Judsean mountains. 
Judas therefore embarked on a new campaign. His 
arms were again crowned with success, he 
destroyed several cities on the sea-coast, together 
with their temples and idols. 

Whilst the hero of the Maccabees had been 
making fearless warriors out of his miserable and 


trembling countrymen who lived hidden in caves, 
whilst he had been inspiring his people with self- 
confidence, and had been vanquishing the enemy far 
and near, the court of Syria had remained wrapped 
in the most complete indifference. What could have 
induced Lysias, who held the reins of government, 
to remain passive in the face of this daring 
defiance? Had he not the means of hiring mer- 
cenaries; or did he think the Judseans invincible? 
It is said that a distinguished man at the Syrian 
court, named Ptolemy Macron, had advocated the 
cause of the Judseans, and had declared that the 
religious restraint imposed upon them was unjust. 
Suddenly important news came to Palestine 
concerning Antiochus Epiphanes. The progress 
of that monarch through Parthia had not been 
signalised by any military success ; nor had 
he been able to refill his treasury. Driven 
by want of money, he undertook an expedition 
to the city of Susa, in Elymais, to plunder the 
Temple of the Goddess Anaitis ; but the in- 
habitants resisted the invader and forced him to 
retreat. He fell sick in the Persian city of Tabse, 
and expired in frenzy (164). He who had derided 
the idea of a Divine Being and Divine justice, who 
had blasphemed with perfect equanimity all that 
men hold holy, lost all confidence in himself in 
consequence of the frustration of his plans. It is 
quite possible that on his death-bed, he may have 
repented of his desecration of the Temple, and his 
attack of frenzy may have resulted from the stings 
of a remorseful conscience. At all events his last 
orders savour of madness, for he appointed one 
of his favourites, Philip, as regent of his kingdom 
and guardian of his young son Antiochus V., 
although previous to his departure for Persia, he 
had invested Lysias with absolute power. This, 
his dying act, of pitting two rival governors against 
one another, and at the same time, of dividing 


his country into factions, proved fatal to the 
Syrio- Macedonian kingdom, and to the Seleu- 
cidaean house. 

The death of Antiochus produced no change in 
the position of the Judaeans. Lysias, who was 
guardian of the young king, Antiochus V. (Eupator, 
from 164 to 162) undertook no expedition against 
the Judaeans. Judas Maccabseus took advantage of 
this inactivity to improve the unsatisfactory internal 
condition of his country. At that time, there existed 
in Jerusalem two neighbouring fortified places that 
were in daily feud with one another, namely the 
Sanctuary, and the fortress of the Acra, occupied 
by the Hellenists, who, with their pretended high- 
priest Menelaus, continued their hostilities against 
the patriotic and loyal Judseans. In order to 
ward off their attacks upon the Temple, Judas 
had surrounded it with a high wall and with towers. 
But how long were these hostilities to continue ? 
Judas Maccabaeus took measures to bring them 
to an end. He undertook the formal siege of the 
Acra, and raised earthworks on which he placed 
catapults, to discharge stones against the walls. 

In this emergency some of the Hellenists resolved 
to have recourse to the young king, Antiochus V. 
(Eupator), and travelled for that purpose to Antioch. 
Upon their arrival, they declared that they had 
been cruelly ill-treated by the Judaean party, on 
account of their devotion to the royal cause ; that 
they had been robbed of their property, and 
threatened with death. They also suggested to 
the king and his guardian, that if the Acra 
were allowed to fall into the hands of the Has- 
monaeans, the rebellious Judaeans would be utterly 
unassailable. A council was thereupon held at 
the Syrian court, and it was agreed to commence 
hostile proceedings against the Hasmonaeans. 
Ptolemy Macron, who alone spoke in favour of 
peaceful measures, could gain no hearing. 


The flame of war was thus rekindled in the spring 
of 163 B.C. It was an unfortunate time for the 
Judeeans, as this happened to be a sah>batical year, 
which was strictly kept by those who would have 
forfeited their lives for the Law. There could be 
neither sowing nor reaping, and the people had to 
content themselves with the fruits of the trees, and 
with the aftergrowth of the soil, from the last 
harvest. The garrisons of the fortresses could not 
be supplied with food. 

Lysias, accompanied by the royal child Eupator, 
and, at the head of a large army with elephants, 
marched towards the south side of Judaea. Judas 
could only send a small army into the field, as he 
required the greater number of his forces for the 
defence of the Temple and of the fortress of 
Bethzur. Thus he was compelled to restrict him- 
self to defensive operations. But the garrison of 
Bethzur fought bravely, and attempted to destroy 
the siege-train of the invaders. Unfortunately, 
the scarcity of their provisions would not permit the 
beleaguered to undergo a long siege, and, moreover, 
they were betrayed by a traitor, Rodocus, who is 
accused of having revealed to the enemy the secret 
ways by which food was introduced into the for- 
tress. At length famine and treachery compelled 
the garrison of Bethzur to surrender; but they were 
allowed free egress from the fortress. Relieved on 
this side, the Syrian army was now able to march 
upon Jerusalem. Nothing was left to Maccabaeus 
but to meet them in the field. He advanced at the 
head of his troops to Beth-Zachariah, not far from 
Bethzur. The Judseans again performed prodigies 
of valour. Amongst many feats of self-sacrifice, 
the following is particularly mentioned : Eleazer, 
one of the Hasmonaean brothers, thinking that the 
magnificently attired rider of an elephant was the 
king himself, crept boldly under the animal, stabbed 
it to death and fell crushed by its enormous 


weight. But in spite of the courage and daring of 
the Judceans, they were obliged to retreat before 
the superior numbers of the Syrians. Judas re- 
entered Jerusalem and entrenched himself with his 
army in the Temple. Lysias soon followed and 
began a formal siege of the Sanctuary. Judas did 
not fail to defend himself, and also erected cata- 
pults. As the siege continued for a long time, the 
supplies, which were not plentiful on account of the 
sabbatical year, were soon consumed by the gar- 
rison. Tortured by hunger, the troops began to 
desert the fortress by subterranean passages. Only 
Judas Maccabseus, his three brothers, and a small 
band of devoted followers, remained steadfastly at 
their post of danger, defying the pangs of hunger. 
Jerusalem, or more properly speaking, its last place 
of refuge, the Temple, was very nearly falling, as in 
the time of Nebuchadnezzar, through want of food ; 
but help came unexpectedly. 

Philip, who had been named regent of Syria, 
by the dying king Antiochus Epiphanes, had raised 
a large army of Medo-Persians, and was march- 
ing upon Antioch to deprive Lysias of the rule. 
As soon as Lysias heard of the advance of his 
rival, he was forced to withdraw his troops from 
Jerusalem to lead them against this new enemy. 
He therefore persuaded the young king to make 
peace with the Judseans, and thus a treaty was con- 
cluded, the chief condition being that the Judseans 
should enjoy complete religious freedom, and that 
the fortress of the Temple should remain inviolate. 
Lysias agreed by oath to these conditions, but as 
soon as the gates of the fortress were opened, he 
ordered his soldiers to raze the walls and the towers 
to the ground. In no other way, however, did he 
seek to molest the Judseans, for he neither de- 
stroyed nor desecrated the Sanctuary, and he soon 
commenced his march to Syria, w^here Philip had 
taken possession of the capital. Thus the numerous 


battles of the Hasmonseans were crowned after all 
with success, and the Judseans were once more 
permitted to enjoy religious liberty, and were no 
longer compelled to sacrifice to Jupiter. 

But these wars had another fortunate result : 
the Syrian court withdrew its protection from the 
Hellenists, who were obliged to leave their fortress 
in the Acra. Menelaus, the pretended high priest, 
the author of untold misery, was sacrificed by Lysias. 
The latter looked upon him as a firebrand, and had 
him executed in Bercea (Aleppo), after he had, for 
ten years, stained his priestly diadem by the most 
execrable conduct. Jason, who had not rivalled 
Menelaus in crime, but who had done his best to 
disturb the peace of his country, had expired 
somewhat earlier in a foreign land. Persecuted by 
Antiochus Epiphanes, and driven by the Nabataean 
prince, Aretas, out of his country, he had fled to 
Egypt, but finding no safety there, had wandered 
from town to town, until, at last, he had found a 
grave in Sparta. 

The truce between the Syrian court and the 
Judsean people restored peace and order to the 
country ; it was therefore possible and necessary to 
elect a new high priest, and who could be found 
worthier of that holy office than Judas Maccabseus? 
The great Hasmonsean hero was most probably 
raised to that dignity by Antiochus Eupator, or by 
his guardian Lysias. 

During these days of peace, the warrior was able 
to lay aside his arms, the peasant to till his 
fields, and the scribe to devote himself to the ex- 
planation of the Law ; for the bleeding wounds of 
the commonwealth began at length to close and to 
heal ; but peace was not to be of long duration. 

The excitement, resulting from years of civil 
warfare, was not so easily allayed, and a veil could 
hardly be thrown over the past. There were 
Hellenists who, both openly and secretly, hated 

VOL, I. K K 


Judas Maccabseus and his devoted adherents, es- 
pecially the Chassidim, on account of the restraint 
imposed upon them and the frustration of their 
efforts. Prince Demetrius, who had been de- 
barred from the succession to the throne of Syria, 
by his uncle Antiochus Epiphanes, and who had 
been left by that monarch as hostage in Rome, 
seized upon a favourable opportunity for quitting 
that city to depose the son of the usurper and his 

Hereupon Rome sent one of its severest censors 
to Syria, the envoy Cneius Octavius, not only to 
pronounce a severe reproof against the regent, but 
also to destroy his magnificent troop of elephants 
and to burn his fleet. The orders were carried out 
without opposition ; but Octavius met with his 
death, at the hand of an assassin, in a bath at 
Laodicea. But the authorities in Rome were on 
that account secretly displeased with the court of 
Antiochus, and purposely overlooked the rebellion 
of Demetrius. When this prince appeared as an 
invader in Syria, he gained over the people and the 
army to his cause and had the king and the regent 
murdered (162). The discontented Judsean party 
made use of this change in their rulers to lodge 
their complaints against the Hasmonseans. They 
were led by a priest of the name of Jakim, or in 
Greek Alcimus, the nephew of one of the teachers 
of the Law, Jose son of Joezer, but he adhered to 
the party of the innovators. Alcimus and his ad- 
herents, embittered at having been excluded from 
the Temple and the altar — as was said, with a 
golden key — repaired to the king of Syria, to whom 
they gave a gloomy picture of the state of Judaea, 
ascribing the misfortunes of the country to Judas 
and his followers. The point of the accusation was 
levelled against Maccabaeus. As long as he lived, 
they said, the land would never attain the blessings 



of peace. This accusation was pleasing to De- 
metrius, as it gave him an opportunity of asserting 
his power over a small semi-independent province. 
But he did not walk in the footsteps of his kinsman, 
Antiochus Epiphanes, as regarded religious per- 
secution. However, the fact of his being able to 
nameAlcimus high priest and political leader to the 
Judsean commonwealth, would be a sign that he 
was master of the people. In order to prevent any 
opposition to his wishes, he sent Bacchides, a rude, 
inexorable warrior, with a large troop of Syrians, 
to Jerusalem. But Judas and his brethren were 
not deceived by the peaceful advances of the com- 
mander. Convinced that their freedom and their 
lives were at stake, they quitted their beloved city, 
and retreated to the mountains. 

The unsuspicious Chassidim allowed themselves, 
notwithstanding, to be deceived, and trusted Alci- 
mus, because he was of the house of Aaron. A 
large assembly of distinguished scribes, possibly the 
whole body of the Synhedrin, repaired to Bacchides 
and Alcimus, assuring them of their friendliness 
and devotion, and begging of them to promote 
the peace and welfare of their country. Alcimus, 
the new high priest, solemnly swore that this was 
his intention ; but as soon as he had taken posses- 
sion of the city, he ordered sixty of the Chassidim 
to be slain, his uncle Jose being probably one of 
the victims. This act of perjury and bloodshed 
spread terror and mourning through the whole 
country. Again all hearts turned towards the Mac- 
cabees, and many of those who had joined the 
faction of Alcimus left him and sought the Has- 
monsean brothers at Modin. 

It hardly required a new outrage, perpetrated by 
Bacchides to light the torch of civil war. The 
Syrian army had intercepted the march of a number 
of Judaeans, who were leaving Alcimus in a body, 
had surrounded them near Jerusalem, at Beth Za- 

KK 2 


chariah, and after slaying them, had thrown their 
dead bodies into a cistern. All who loved their free- 
dom and their country, now gathered round the Has- 
monseans. But Alcimus succeeded in attracting the 
ambitious, luxurious and indifferent Judseans, who 
transgressed the Law. The nation was once more 
divided into two rival factions. At first the Hel- 
lenists were the stronger, as they were under the 
protection of foreign troops. Alcimus lost no time 
in marching through the land, in order to force the 
inhabitants to pay submission to Demetrius and 
obedience to himself as high priest. Meanwhile 
the army of the Maccabees was growing in strength 
and numbers. Judas was once more able to take 
the field against the Hellenists, and to punish the 
deserters, and he spread such terror that the 
adherents of Alcimus did not dare to show them- 
selves outside Jerusalem. 

Alcimus placed his hopes of ultimate success 
in the devotion he showed to the Syrian Court, 
more than in his popularity among the people. 
Therefore he hurried to Antioch with fresh accu- 
sations against the Hasmonseans. But Demetrius 
was not alarmed at the rebellion of his Judaean 
subjects. He sent Nicanor, one of the warriors 
who had escaped with him from Rome, to Judaea, 
commanding him to deal severely with the insur- 
gents. This leader, too, considered it necessary 
to proceed gently at first, until the troops placed 
at his disposal had arrived. He gave out that 
having heard of the valour and heroism of the 
great Judaean commander, he was anxious to be- 
come personally acquainted with him ; and that 
to effect a reconciliation between Judas and the 
king, he would send three confidential envoys to 
confer with Maccabaeus. Posidonius, Beodotus, 
and Mattathias, were, it was said, acceptable to 
Judas and his adherents, and an interview con- 
sequently took place between him and Nicanor. 


The latter was so * enchanted with the Judaean 
hero, that he advised him after the conclusion 
of the peace to take a wife and bring an heroic 
race into the world. It is said that Alcimus put 
an end to this good understanding by inform- 
ing the king that Nicanor was playing a false 
part, that he favoured his enemy Judas, and 
contemplated raising him to the office of high 
priest. Hereupon the king sent strict orders to 
Nicanor to cease all negotiations, and to send 
Judas in chains to Antioch. 

Meanwhile Judas, who had been cautioned not 
to trust Nicanor, had retreated to his mountain 
fastnesses, whither he was followed by Nicanor 
and his army. A battle ensued at Caphar-salama, 
on the confines of Samaria, where Nicanor's army 
suffered defeat, and was driven back to the fortress 
of the Acra. Enraged at this repulse, the Syrian 
renewed hostilities with untiring energy, his chief 
object being to make Judas prisoner. 

He repaired to the Mount of the Sanctuary, 
there to make known his orders that the hero 
should be delivered up to him. In vain did the 
Council come forth to meet him, assuring him of 
their devotion to the king, for whose welfare they 
offered up daily sacrifices ; he treated them all 
with rough contempt, and swore that he would 
burn the Temple down, if Judas were not delivered 
into his hands. 

In order to induce the Judseans to surrender him, 
Nicanor ordered that the most respected man in 
Jerusalem, Ragesh, or Razis, called by general 
consent '' Father of the Judseans," should be 
seized and kept as a hostage, but it was said 
that Ragesh committed suicide upon the approach 
of his intended gaoler. Nicanor was now determined 
to vanquish the Maccabees. He marched out from 
Jerusalem at the head of an immense army, pitch- 
ing his camp at Bethoron, whilst Judas, surrounded 


by 3,000 of his bravest followers, took up his 
post at Adarsa. Judsean valour was once more 
triumphant over the superior numbers of the Sy- 
rians. Nicanor fell on the battlefield, and his army 
fled in utter confusion. The inhabitants of the 
towns and villages poured forth in pursuit of the 
fugitive Syrians, and cut off their retreat to Ga- 
zara, so that not a single man reached that town. 
The battle of Adarsa (160) was of so decisive a 
character that its anniversary was celebrated in 
years to come under the name of the day of 
Nicanor. The head and one of the arms of the 
Syrian commander had been severed from the 
body, and were hung as trophies on the walls 
of Jerusalem. Judas and the Hasmonseans were 
once more masters of Jerusalem, since Alcimus 
had withdrawn himself even before the battle. 

Judas, aware of the insecurity of his position, 
and believing that Demetrius would avenge the 
destruction of a part of his army, took a step of 
doubtful wisdom — that of making overtures to the 
all-powerful state of Rome. He entrusted two 
of his countrymen with the important mission — 
Eupolemus, the son of Jochanan, of priestly family, 
and Jason, the son of Eleazer. They were both 
proficient in the Greek tongue. But hardly had 
they reached the end of their journey before Judas 
was obliged once more to draw his sword. 

Demetrius, upon hearing of Nicanor' s defeat, 
had sent an immense army, commanded by the 
merciless Bacchides, to Judaea. This general 
marched through Galilee, killed all the Judseans 
whom he met on his way, and in the spring-time of 
the year encamped before Jerusalem. Judas had 
again been obliged to leave the capital, because, 
stripped as she was of her walls, she afforded no 
shelter. He issued a proclamation to the men and 
youths of Judaea to come forward and fight for 
their fatherland, their Law, and their freedom, but 


only 3,000 responded to the call. Led by Judas, 
these troops marched south, encamping near 
Eleasa, because the mountains in the north were 
no longer safe. Bacchides followed the Judsean 
army with 20,000 foot and 2,000 mounted soldiers, 
taking up his position at Birat, near Bethlehem. 
Confronted with this vast host the Judsean war- 
riors lost heart. They declined to give battle 
for the moment, but insisted upon dispersing to 
await fresh reinforcements. In vain did Judas 
employ all his eloquence to urge stedfastness 
upon them. The greater number deserted, leav- 
ing only eight hundred men to support Judas. 
Selecting the most valiant of this little band, he 
successfully attacked the right wing of Bacchides, 
and drove the enemy to the confines of Ashdod. 
But the small troop of Judsean soldiers left behind 
was not able to withstand the desperate onslaught 
of the Syrian army, and when Judas returned 
from the pursuit he was obliged to devote all his 
energy to the deliverance of his followers. He 
and his band of picked men performed wonders 
of bravery. There were wounded and dying on 
both sides, and the battle lasted from morning till 
evening. But the Judsean army became smaller 
and smaller, until it was entirely surrounded by 
the enemy. At last even Judas Maccabaeus fell like 
a hero, sword in hand. The rest of the soldiers 
fled from the battlefield, and the Maccabsean 
brothers, under cover of the general confusion, 
were able to save the body of their heroic com- 
mander from the contempt or ill-usage of the 

The defeat at Eleasa or Birat (160) seemed to 
have rendered useless all the previous Jewish vic- 
tories. The lion-hearted troop of Hasmonaeans 
were dispersed, Alcimus once more took possession 
of the Temple and the Holy City, and was there- 
fore able to triumph over his antagonists. 


But the long years of Maccabsean warfare had 
not been in vain. They had roused the people 
from their torpor, and had given them a second 
youth. The blood of mart3TS is said to heal 
wounds. In truth all old wounds were healed 
by this willing sacrifice of so many lives. From 
without, the shame that appeared to taint the 
Judsean nation had vanished. The contemptuous 
Greeks, who had felt the force of Judas' arm, no 
longer derided the Judsean people, and the Judaeans 
were no longer required to prove their equality 
with the Greeks by joining in the Olympian games. 
From within, the Judaeans had learnt to know 
themselves and their mission ; they proved them- 
selves to be God's people, destined to guard His 
law and His teaching, and capable of defending 
those precious gifts. Entire self-sacrifice, taught 
by the prophet Elijah to a few disciples, and 
preached by the second Isaiah in fiery eloquence, 
had become, through the action of the Maccabaean 
warriors and martyrs, the recognised duty of the 
whole nation. 

Judas Maccabseus had breathed out his heroic 
soul on the battlefield of Eleasa. The whole 
nation mourned for him, and justly, for it had 
become orphaned by his loss. 

The sublime enthusiasm that had led to the 
valiant deeds of the Maccabees, that had moved 
singers to extol the Lord '^in new songs" could 
not be of lasting duration. It was the result of ex- 
alted spiritual condition, and, in the natural course 
of things, would give way to a corresponding 
state of indifference. An entire nation could not 
continue in arms from year's end to year's end. 
Besides which, the principal cause which had 
prompted a warlike rising had ceased to exist. 
P^or it was no longer demanded of them to deny 
the God of Israel, or to sacrifice to Jupiter. One 
of the conditions of the truce that Judas Macca- 


bseus had concluded with the young king Antiochus 
Eupator, or with his general or regent Lysias, was 
the religious freedom of the Judseans. Demetrius I. 
did not interfere with this concession. 

In the Temple at Jerusalem, the sacrifices w^ere 
offered up according to law, and although the high 
priest, Jakim or Alcimus, was not a favourite of the 
people, yet unlike his predecessor Menelaus, he 
came of priestly descent. But the party of the 
Hellenists still held the fortress Acra in Jeru- 
salem, whence they menaced the faithful with the 
destruction of their city, and the violation of their 
Temple. The conqueror, Bacchides, after the death 
of Judas, had made them masters of the land, and 
they were resolved to misuse their authority in 
order to bring about the downfall of the pious 

Actions that would have roused noble natures to 
active measures did not seem important enough to 
warrant the short-sighted, and above all things, 
ease-loving people to take any decided steps 
against their enemy and to hazard their own 
safety and that of their belongings, unless a voice 
of authority called upon them to act. 

But after the death of Judas Maccabseus there 
was no one who could claim absolute authority. 

Although the Hasmonaean brothers were beloved 
by the people, they had not the power of sum- 
moning the whole nation to their standard, and 
they were only looked upon as a party. 

In fact, after the death of Judas there were 
three distinct parties amongst the people, and 
this party spirit was a symptom of the reviving 
character of the Maccabsean wars. First, there 
were the pious Chassidim, or Assidseans as they 
are more generally called, whose very existence 
depended upon the essence of Judaism. Then 
came their persistent antagonists, the Hellenists, 
amongst whose members were the servants 


of the Temple, the priests, the old and distin- 
guished family of the Odura, and the sons of 
Phasiron. Lastly, the Hasmonseans, who had raised 
themselves to great power in a short time and 
whose leaders were the three remaining sons of 
Mattathias, Jonathan, Simeon and Jochanan. The 
Hasmonseans resembled the Assidseans in their 
love for Judaism and the Sanctuary, but they 
differed from them, in their wider perception, in 
their greater knowledge of outward circumstances, 
in their manly energy, which could not be deterred 
from its purpose by any adverse circumstances. 
They were not content with having prevented the 
violation of the Sanctuary, or with having obtained 
the recognition of their religious, rites ; but they 
longed to rid themselves of the causes productive 
of misfortune to their country. A Psalmist describes 
them most accurately in these words: ** The praise 
of God is in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in 
their hands." They could not bear to contemplate 
the Judaeans under the hateful yoke of the Greeks, 
or to know that Judaism depended for its very 
existence upon the whim of a Syrian despot, or 
the intrigues of a treacherous party. Not only 
did Judaea require religious freedom, but also 
political independence. But the Hasmonaeans 
feared that they lacked the strength to found an 
independent Judaean commonwealth. Thus they 
determined to rely upon extraneous aid, and for 
this purpose they desired to connect themselves 
with the Roman state, and it appears also with the 
Parthians, who had freed themselves from Syrian 
rule. But it was this worldly policy that incensed 
the Assidaeans. They put their trust in God alone, 
and could only imagine warfare conducted ac- 
cording to biblical precedent ; they believed that 
God would confound the enemy in a miraculous 
way, and considered that to seek foreign help was 
synonymous with want of confidence in God. ** It 


is better to trust in the Lord than in man/' they 
quoted, ^' it is better to trust in the Lord than in 
princes." This disunion between the two parties 
had possibly been instrumental in separating the 
Assidseans from the Hasmonseans, thereby re- 
ducing the number of the Maccabsean warriors, a 
circumstance which may have helped to contribute 
to the fall of Judas. Of the three parties, the 
Hasmonseans alone had a chance of being ulti- 
mately the leaders of the nation. The Hellenists 
had destroyed their prospects by breaking too 
entirely with the observances or prejudices of the 
people, whilst the views of the Assidseans were of an 
intensely narrow character, and they were too fond 
of their own undisturbed repose to infringe it by 
seeking a remedy for the state of anarchy in which 
Judsea was plunged., 

Confusion was indeed rampant at that time. 
Whenever Hellenists and Hasmonaeans met, a dis- 
graceful conflict was the result; no voice of 
authority forbade such practices, there was hardly 
a court of justice, where a plaintiff could demand 
redress. Famine did but increase this miserable 
state of things. 

We are told by one of our most trustworthy 
historians, ^'that there was great sorrow in Israel 
at that time, greater than there had been at the 
close of the prophetic age." 

In their anguish the unfortunate people turned to 
Jonathan Chaphus, hoping that he would humiliate 
the Hellenists and restore peace to the country. 
But Jonathan did not possess the warlike energy of 
his brother Judas, nor was he supported by the 
whole nation. He was more of a politician than 
a general. Too weak to attack the army that 
Bacchides had quartered in Judsea, he was merely 
able to take measures of defence. Threatened by 
the Syrian host, the Hasmonseans entrenched them- 
selves in the woodland country on the shores of 


the Jordan ; but, fearful of an overpowering attack, 
they prepared to send their wives and children across 
the river to the friendly Nabatseans. On the way, 
however, this peaceful troop was suddenly attacked 
by a warlike tribe, that of Bene Amri, from the city 
of Madaba, and with their leader Jochanan, the 
Hasmonseans were put to the sword — a deed of 
infamy that was subsequently avenged by Jonathan. 

But even in their hiding-places, in the valley of 
the Jordan, the Hasmonseans found no rest. Bac- 
chides sought them out, attacked them on the sab- 
bath day, when they were not exactly forbidden to 
defend themselves but when they were less prepared 
for resistance, and forced them to swim the river 
and find safety on the opposite side. The whole 
country was now at the mercy of the enemy. 
Bacchides restored the fortresses, re-garrisoned the 
strong places, the Acra, Bethzur and Gazara, storing 
them with provisions and with weapons. He assured 
himself against the treachery of the people by seiz- 
ing upon the children of the most distinguished 
families and placing them as hostages in the Acra. 
Thus, in the space of one year (160-159) Bacchides 
succeeded in entirely putting down all armed oppo- 
sition to the Syrian rule, a feat that not one of the 
previous Syrian commanders had been able to 
accomplish in six years. 

The hero of the Maccabees was sorely missed. 
Had King Demetrius wished to make any important 
changes in the religious condition of the Judseans 
he could not have chosen a more opportune mo- 
ment ; the strength of the people was broken, and 
their leaders were banished from the scene of action. 
But the successor of Antiochus Epiphanes, sunk in 
a life of debauchery, was content with having 
assured himself of the sovereignty of Judaea, and 
of the annual payment of the tribute money. The 
Syrian court, even after the death of Alcimus, 
troubled itself but little, if at all, about the religion 


of the Judaeans. Although he was disliked by the 
people, the high priest Alcimus did not belong to 
the extreme Hellenists. He was merely an ambitious 
man who always worshipped the rising power. The 
offence with v/hich he was reproached appears, on 
closer examination, hardly to have been a sin aimed 
against the religion of the Judaeans. It appears 
that between the inner and outer courts of the 
Temple was a kind of screen, named, on account 
of its fragility, '' Soreg." This screen, the work 
of the prophets, as it was called, was used as a 
boundary, which no heathen, no unclean objects of 
any sort or kind might pass to penetrate into the 
Temple. But Alcimus gave orders for the destruc- 
tion of this partition, probably with the intention of 
admitting the heathen within the sacred precincts. 
The pious Judaeans were justly incensed, and when 
Alcimus was seized, directly after this command, 
with paralysis of speech and of body, from which 
he never recovered, they attributed his fatal illness 
to Heaven's wrath. 

After the death of Alcimus the Syrian court left 
the office of high priest unfilled, evidently with the 
intention of destroying even this semblance of 
independence on the part of the Judaeans. For 
seven years the Temple had no high priest, and 
the country no political head. Probably the priestly 
functions were carried on by a substitute for the 
high priest, under the name of Sagan. We hear 
nothing more of Syrian hostilities. Bacchides left 
the country, and Judaea was at peace for two years 


Jonathan and Simon, the leaders of the Has- 
monaeans, made use of this peace to strengthen 
themselves and to arm their followers. They were 
entrenched in the fortress Bethagla, in an oasis of 
the desert of Jericho, within the grateful shade of a 
wood and near a stream of running water. The 
river Jordan protected their rear. 


In preparing- for war Jonathan had no other pur- 
pose than that of many a Bedouin chieftain, to 
infringe upon the peace concluded by the governors 
of the land ; but as the sympathy of the people went 
with him, and as he carried his sword in a holy 
cause, his voice soon gained authority. Without 
doubt the harm he did to the Hellenists was con- 
siderable, for we hear of their carrying fresh com- 
plaints to the Syrian court. But as Demetrius was 
hopelessly indifferent, and as Bacchides was weary 
of undertaking a guerilla warfare at great dis- 
advantage to himself, they remained inactive, whilst 
the Hellenists proposed to fall treacherously upon 
Jonathan and Simon, and to deliver them as 
prisoners to the Syrians. An ambush was laid for 
the two commanders, but the conspiracy was re- 
vealed, and the Maccabees were able to take 
measures of defence upon this occasion. Fifty 
Hellenists were seized and executed. Bacchides, 
who had counted upon a rapid conclusion to the 
conspiracy, felt himself entrapped into a new war, 
and proceeded to besiege the Hasmonseans in their 
fortress of Bethagla. But the Judsean army had 
grown to so large a force that it was possible to 
divide the troops. Thus Jonathan and his followers 
defeated the Hellenists, who supported Bacchides in 
the open field, whilst Simon with his division suc- 
ceeded in burning the siege machines of the enemy. 
Hampered on both sides, and with a considerable 
loss of soldiers, Bacchides was forced to raise the 
siege of Bethagla, and as an outlet for his rage 
executed several of the Hellenists in his army. 
This was an appropriate moment for Jonathan to 
demand and obtain a truce. The condition agreed 
upon was that Jonathan should return to Judaea 
unmolested, but that he should not be permit- 
ted to inhabit Jerusalem. Hostages were de- 
manded as a pledge of his word, and prisoners 
were exchanged. Bacchides then marched out of 

(■: : 


the land, leaving his allies, the Hellenists, un- 

Jonathan took up his position in the fortress of 
Michmash, where Saul had once fixed his head- 
quarters. He was now the acknowledged head of 
the Judsean people, and showed a firm front to 
its enemies. The terror of his name was a guaran- 
tee of peace. For five years *' the sword no longer 
reigned in Israel." How this state of things would 
have finally ended is difficult to say, but it is cer- 
tain that without the aid of an unexpected piece of 
good fortune the dream of the Hasmonseans could 
never have been realised. 

A revolution in the Syrian kingdom effected a 
complete change in the fate of Judaea. It became 
imperative to invest Jonathan with supreme power. 

An obscure youth of Smyrna, Alexander Balas, 
was the cause of this revolution. He happened to 
bear an extraordinary likeness to the late king 
of Syria, Antiochus Eupator. This similarity of 
feature prompted Attains, king of Pergamum, to 
induce Alexander to play the part of pretender to 
the throne. Alexander, richly supplied by Attalus 
with money and troops, was recognised by the 
Roman senate as heir to the kingdom of Syria. 
Demetrius, now rudely awaked from his day- 
dreams, began to look about him for allies. Above 
all he was anxious to gain Jonathan to his side. 
This led him to write a flattering epistle to the 
Hasmonaean commander, calling him brother-in- 
arms, and entreating him to collect his forces and 
to procure weapons. The Judaean hostages were 
at once to be set free. 

Jonathan did not neglect so favourable an oppor- 
tunity. He hurried to Jerusalem, repaired the 
walls and fortified the city. The Hellenists sought 
refuge in the fortress of Bethzur. But Alexander, 
who was also in want of help was equally eager to 
enlist Jonathan in his cause, and knew how to 


make him look most favourably upon his claims. 
He nominated Jonathan high priest, sent him a 
robe of crimson and crown of gold, thus declaring 
him tributary prince of the Syrian kingdom and 
friend of its monarch. 

Jonathan donned his priestly garment and 
officiated for the first time as high priest in the 
Temple upon the Feast of Tabernacles(i52); he was 
the first of the Hasmonaeans who had gained so 
great a distinction and who was able to hold it for 
any length of time. 

Thus Judaea, brought to the very brink of total 
destruction by a war of twenty years, was saved at 
last, by the valour and self-sacrifice of a handful of 
warriors. The sufferer's part which she had had to 
play for so long was now to be exchanged for that 
of an active and heroic one. 

Jonathan greatly contributed to the growing 
power of the nation during his rule (152-144). 
He justly divined which side he should espouse in 
the struggle for the Syrian crown. He allied 
himself to Alexander, although Demetrius, like all 
who have nothing left to lose, was profuse in 
the most liberal offers. Ignoring the high priest, 
this monarch wrote direct to the Judaean people, 
promising to free them from their imposts, to return 
three provinces to their jurisdiction that had once 
been added to Samaria, to recognise Jerusalem as 
a sanctuary and even to give up the important 
Acra. He declared that he would defray the 
means for conducting divine service in the 
Temple out of his own royal treasury, reserving 
for that purpose the revenues of the town of Ptole- 
mais, still in the hands of his opponents. The 
Judsean army was to be raised at Syrian cost, all 
preferments and rewards given according to Syrian 
custom, and the forces consisting of 30,000 men, 
were naturally to serve as his allies. Even the 
Judaeans, settled in the Syrian provinces, were, out 


of consideration for this alliance, to be secure from 
all foreign interference, and were to be exempt on 
all sabbaths and festivals and for three days before 
and after the festivals from being called before any 
court of justice. 

But nothing could bribe the Judaean people to 
separate themselves from Jonathan ; they were not 
blinded by these brilliant prospects, and their 
leader was too well acquainted with the character 
of Demetrius, to give heed to his promises. Thus 
he allied himself with Alexander, aided him in 
crushing his rival and never had cause to regret 
the step that he had taken. The usurper loaded 
Jonathan with marks of favour, and gave great 
prominence to the fact that the friendship of the 
Maccabsean chieftain had materially helped him to 
the Syrian throne. When he entered the city of 
Ptolemais, to receive the daughter of the Egyptian 
monarch, Ptolemy VI. Philopator, as his bride, he 
invited Jonathan to meet him, and the two kings 
entertained the Judaean warrior as their equal. 

During the reign of Alexander Balas (152-146) 
Judaea revived from the cruel wounds that despotism 
and treachery had dealt her, and was soon able to 
call 10,000 men into the field. Jonathan on his side 
treated Alexander with unalterable loyalty. For 
when Demetrius II., the son of Demetrius I., con- 
tested, as rightful heir to the throne, the sove- 
reignty of Syria, Jonathan upheld Alexander's 
cause most strenuously, although that monarch 
was deserted by Egypt and Rome. 

The Maccabaean chieftain began by opposing 
the advance of Demetrius' general Apollonius on 
the shores of the Mediterranean. He besieged and 
took the fortress in the sea-port town of Joppa, 
destroyed the old Philistine city of Ashdod, that 
had declared itself for Apollonius, and burnt the 
Temple of the god Dagon. As a reward for his 
services, Jonathan received from Alexander the city 



of Ekron, with the surrounding country, which from 
that time was incorporated with Judaea (147). 

The Syrian people were now divided in their 
allegiance, some of them acknowledging the 
usurper Alexander, and others the rightful king 
Demetrius II., but Alexander was at length 
treacherously slain. In the general confusion result- 
ing from these events, when a part of the nation, 
and the army went over to Demetrius II. and 
a part remained true to Alexander, the house of 
Jonathan was able to besiege the Acra, the strong- 
hold of the Hellenists. 

The besieged turned for help to the Syrian king, 
and Demetrius II., eager to overthrow the power- 
ful Maccabsean, listened to their appeal, marched 
to their rescue, and commanded Jonathan to meet 
him at Ptolemais. But when Jonathan obeyed 
and came with rich presents, Demetrius thought 
that his alliance might be of use to himself, and 
not only did he abandon his march upon the Acra 
but he confirmed Jonathan in his priestly office. 

Jonathan, well aware that the king was in sore 
need of money, offered him 300 talents in exchange 
for a few districts of land and for the promise of 
the exemption of the Judaeans from all taxation. 
The compact was made, written, and placed for 
security in the Temple ; but Demetrius, in spite of 
his solemn protestation, soon regretted having freed 
the Judaeans from their imposts. No Syrian monarch 
was ever known to be loyal to his word or to 
refrain from recalling favours granted in some press- 
ing moment of danger. The Judaean army mean- 
while was soon to enjoy the unexpected triumph 
of inflicting the same degradation upon the Syrian 
capital that the Syrians had so often inflicted upon 
Jerusalem. Demetrius had excited the discontent 
of his people to such a degree that they actually 
besieged him in his own palace at Antioch, and his 
troops, who were clamouring for pay, refused to aid 


in his deliverance. Thus he felt himself in the un- 
pleasant position of being compelled to seek the help 
of Jonathan's Judsean troops. The 3,000 men sent 
by the high priest destroyed a portion of the Syrian 
capital by fire, and forced the inhabitants and the 
rebellious soldiers to release their king and sue for 
pardon. But no sooner was Demetrius at liberty 
than he treated his deliverer with the basest in 
gratitude. Jonathan, therefore, refused to come to 
his rescue, when a general of Alexander Balas, 
Diodotus Tryphon by name, conspired against him, 
attempting to place Antiochus VI., the young son 
of Alexander Balas, on the throne of Syria. De- 
metrius was forced to fly from his capital. Em- 
bittered at the faithlessness of the Syrian monarch, 
and grateful to the memory of Alexander, Jonathan 
espoused the cause of the young king and his 
regent Tryphon. The latter confirmed him in his 
priestly office, and permitted him to wear the gold 
clasp, the insignia of an independent prince. Simon, 
his brother, was made commander of the Syrian 
forces on the shores of the Mediterranean, from the 
ladder of Tyre to the Egyptian confines. 

Bravely did the Hasmonsean brothers fight for 
Antiochus, upon the triumph of whose cause the 
freedom of the Judaeans depended. Victory and 
defeat succeeded one another alternately; but at 
last the Hasmonseans besieged and took several 
towns, and finally entered Damascus. They drove 
the Hellenists out of Bethzur and re-garrisoned that 
fortress. Beyond all things they were determined 
to make Jerusalem impregnable. They rebuilt her 
walls, extending them eastwards to the vale of 
Kidron, thus creating a defence for the Holy Mount; 
they erected a fortress in the middle of the city, 
facing the Acra, thus cutting off the Hellenists' 
means of communication with the country, and they 
filled up the moat *' Chaphenatha," which divided 
the Holy Mount from the city, and which was but 

LL 2 



partially bridged over, and thus brought the Temple, 
as it were, closer to the town. 

But Jonathan would not attempt the siege of the 
Acra, partly because he might have given umbrage 
to his allies, the Syrians, and partly because he did 
not dare to concentrate all his forces at one point, 
for the generals of the fallen Demetrius still gave 
signs of resistance. At that time Judaea could boast 
of an army 40,000 strong (144-143). 

Subsequent events proved plainly enough that 
the prudence evinced by the Hasmonseans at the out- 
set of this campaign was not exaggerated. As soon 
as the treacherous general, Diodotus Tryphon, felt 
himself secure of the Syrian army he determined to 
overthrow the puppet king Antiochus, and to place 
the crowm upon his own head. But the greatest 
hindrance to the attainment of these ends was 
Jonathan himself, who, true to the memory of 
Alexander, was the devoted champion of the rights 
of Antiochus, and who, moreover, was in possession 
of a great part of the sea coast. Tryphon was well 
aware that Jonathan would not become a party to 
his treachery, so he determined to rid himself of 
the high priest, and thus weaken the followers 
of the young king. But a course of open violence 
being impossible he resorted to craft, and actually 
succeeded in outwitting the most cunning of all the 
Hasmonseans. Upon the news of Tr)^phon having 
entered Scythopolis at the head of a powerful army 
Jonathan hurried to oppose him with 40,000 picked 
warriors. To his amazement he was most